• 17Aug
    Author: Katherine Pisana Categories: Technology Comments: 7

    FB TweetA couple of months ago, we were encouraged to start using Twitter in one of my masters-level online courses. I was debating whether or not to follow the media hype, give in and sign up for a Twitter account, but then a thought dawned on me:

    ‘What’s the difference between Tweets and Facebook status updates?’

    I’m a regular Facebook user (it hasn’t started getting on my nerves yet). I update my status a few times each week and rather enjoy reading the updates of those in my network. So I didn’t really understand what added value a Twitter account would give me.

    While in the throws of this heated debate with myself (oh yes! heated I say!), I posted a message in my tutor group’s discussion forum asking my fellow classmates whether they saw a difference in these two forms of microblogging?

    Days went by, status updates updated, and yet no one responded to my message in FirstClass. So, I let it go and moved on to the next week’s tasks, deciding not to become a Tweeter after all.

    It’s just a few weeks ’til the end of my MA, and as I find myself contemplating how I’ll structure my FINAL project (!!!), my mind seems to be wandering back to that lonely question.

    This time though, instead of looking for answers among my kind, I head to Google, which in turn leads me to Gavin Purcell’s blog post in which he attempts to answer this very question! Instead of posting a message in a restricted-access discussion forum that’s hardly been used lately since I have a feeling that we’re all slowly but surely being sucked dry by all the course work (not to mention life!), Purcell went right to the source. He relied on his Twitter network for answers and posted a Tweet with the very question that’s been on my mind for weeks.

    In his blog entry, he made note of some answers his Tweet generated. Just for a virtual moment, I’d like to take a look at a few of them, break them down and reflect on whether they help me figure this one out. However before I start, I feel inclined to state that this ‘breaking down’ process is totally based on my perspective in an effort for me to make sense of my understanding of these two technologies. It’s by no means a way to criticize any of the Tweeters. If you have a different viewpoint to share, you’re more than welcome to add a comment below :).

    Tweet1@techdiva66 twitter is short, character-limited updates & facebook gives you more options for communicating as well as games & apps

    Two things about this answer:

    (1) Emphasizing the character limitations of Twitter makes it sound like Facebook status updates are verbosely cumbersome (i.e. long), which is really not true at all. Personally, I haven’t seen many over 20-25 words with most ranging between 2 and 10 words.

    (2) We’re just talking about status updates vs. tweets here – not debating the similarities of the two platforms.

    Tweet2@jpurnell twitter is lower-stakes status updates

    Why lower-stakes?

    Tweet3@brew7vwp on twitter you talk to strangers you like, on facebook you talk to friends you barely remember

    Interesting…this, I think, could be true, depending on your networking strategies. I actually ‘like’ the people in my Facebook network (what up homies!?!) although I am sometimes put in a awkward position to keep it that way. So, this one doesn’t quite apply to me but I can see how it could be relevant to others. Moving on…

    Tweet4@victordlt Twitter is Facebook in KISS mode (Keep it Simple Stupid). More Simple and Faster.

    How long do these people take to post status updates and who do they think reads them!? I suppose if my Facebook network was composed of work colleagues and I was trying to professionally brand myself through the updates (…isn’t that what LinkedIn is for…?), then ok, I can maybe see how it might be stressful to post an update. But I’ve never really associated updating my status as a difficult or time consuming activity. Am I missing something here…?

    Tweet5@calindrome Twitter is a cocktail party; Facebook is recess.

    …k…I had to think about this one for a while.

    Cocktail party: frivolous, cheeky, unpredictable.
    Recess: break time (with the intention to get right back to work), catching up with those you know.

    Yeah, ok, this makes a lot of sense. But how would this answer help justify Twitter as an educational technology tool?

    Tweet6@Goose Facebook is Twitter for people with Internet agoraphobia.

    …taking that to mean that Twitter supports a more open network structure…ok…worth noting…

    Tweet1@JD_Southard Facebook is so 2008. Twitter is a social networking experiment in real time connecting people thru a limited # of characters

    I have to be honest with you…I actually like words so this one doesn’t sell me on Twitter… Nor is the 2008 reference that convincing since I’m trying to play devil’s advocate with new and emerging technologies in order not to fall into the habit of adopting technologies for the sake of technology.

    Tweet2@ahachmi twitter is where you can vent your mood, sure fbook does the same, but in Twitter it is nothing but the venting of thoughts.

    So…why would anyone choose to be witness to venting? And if Twitter is the vent, then what is Facebook? The vaccuum? The Swiffer Duster?

    Tweet3@MyNameisRazzle Facebook Status without the Facebook.

    Which brings me back to my original question – is there any value added in having accounts with both?

    After going through this little self-imposed reflective activity, I think I’ve come away with more questions than answers. I’ve clarified some important things for myself though: Twitter = open network structure & cocktails vs. recess. Personal networking strategies may also play an important role in the dynamics of these two platforms but clarifying the intentions of the users and knowing one’s audience might be helpful here. But maybe it’s too soon to make any judgments seeing how quickly things are changing.

    I should get back to work now, but before I go, I wanted to leave you with a little side note: as I was drafting this post, I updated my Facebook status, asking my network what they thought was the difference between Tweets and updates. Perhaps it’s because it’s the middle of a week day and everyone is hard at work, but I didn’t get any replies.

  • 15Jun
    Author: Katherine Pisana Categories: Education, Technology Comments: 2

    Online learning and I have had an interesting relationship over the years...

    We’ve been monogamous…
    I have studied online as a full-time student.

    We’ve seen other people…
    I have completed additional specialist training (also done online) in online language instruction while still wearing the hat of the part-time online graduate student.

    We’ve taken a break…
    As with many professional development endeavors, they eventually lead to promotions. Mine did, but along with more money and a longer title, it also came with more work!! As a result, I had to take a break from my studies and trust that when the time was right, we would pick up where we left off.

    We’ve had a long distance relationship…
    During the time that I’ve been working on completing my MA in Online and Distance Education (a three-year part-time degree) I’ve lived in 7 different cities spanning 4 countries. If it wasn’t for the technology, I would have had to choose between my studies, which are both personally and professionally very important to me, and the numerous other aspects of my life.

    I hope that a few things have emerged from this little blurb. One is that learning is a lifelong process, and sometimes it can feel like a love/hate relationship. But as with all relationships, they’re only as good as you make them! The second thing that I hope translates is that online learning (whether it be fully online or mixed in with a bit of face-to-face instruction) is a flexible approach to developing your knowledge and skills. And the third aspect of online learning, and the one that is probably the most fundamentally important to me, is its ability to seamlessly connect you to a border-less world.

  • 18May
    Author: Katherine Pisana Categories: Education, Technology Comments: 1

    18-May-postWe all know how much students depend on Google to link them to information from all over the web. But what would happen if the search engine actually turned into the resource? Case in Point: the Wolfram computation knowledge engine. Sounds a bit more fancy then Google already! But Wolfram, the bringer of all things Mathematica, is shying away from media pressure to label his knowledge engine ‘the thing that killed Google’, and I can see why. Both serve different purposes.

    Changing our approaches

    Could this change the composition of our information streams? Could it impact upon the way we use learning objects in education and the rate at which we feel the need to keep reinventing the wheel? And how about the nature of instruction? Does it have the potential to change the way we teach and assess? For example, could you see yourself directing your students to Wolfram to help them test their understanding of the Darcy–Weisbach equation? How about a course in nutrition using Wolfram to provide students with information on the nutritional value of foods (e.g. cheeseburger). Or what about economics students using Wolfram to quickly compare the GDP of Brazil and Ecuador or astronomy students checking how far the Milky Way Galaxy is from the Earth today?

    Reliability of Information

    If you’re worried about the reliability of the information, why not get your students to do some research on it? One activity that comes to mind is:

    Phase 1: Have students look up a collection of statistics or historical facts on your subjects of choice using Wolfram.

    Phase 2: Instruct them to cross reference the results with those published in other sources to see how the information compares.

    Phase 3: Ask them to discuss the implications of the discrepancies in the information generated from this and other popular search tools, and consider why they think inconsistencies exist.

    It could be a great activity to develop information literacy and research skills that incorporates a mixture of the old and some of the newest ‘bleeding edge’ technologies around today.

    The Challenges

    The challenge here is in the way we use our minds to conceptualize the information we want to generate from this type of tool. It’s not just about finding information about ‘a topic’. It’s about the relationship of the information you’re looking for right now. And if this tool really does enable us to access information that’s only a few seconds old, maybe we have to reconsider the way we understand ‘accuracy’ of information? The relationship of information that was ‘accurate’ two hours ago may look different now.

    Does this also imply a need to change the way we reference our sources? Until now, it’s been sufficient to note the date on which you accessed a specific article or webpage. Are we now going to have to note the time as well?

    Media Response

    Today the BBC discussed the recent alpha launch of the project. Public reaction includes comments on the engine’s ‘ability to do calculations, conversions, translations and other comparisons with linguistic data’ and on the way it has given information seekers ‘new ways to find and compute data‘. Let’s see what we can do with it in education! Consider that a challenge 😉