Social Learning: 3 Ways Of Twitter Utilization To Support And Enhance The Impact Of Instructor-led Training

Social Learning: Popular Ways Of Twitter Utilization In Instructor-led Training

Web 2.0 enables us to utilize the internet not only as a means of communication and a source of information, but also as a means for creating, sharing and consuming information and knowledge. Most instructors now have an easy availability of web-based tools that can help them extend and enhance learning processes. It is evident that combining different web-based social learning tools, such as Wikis, Blogs, Podcasts, Videocasts; media sharing sites, such as YouTube; social networking sites like Facebook or LinkedIN; content aggregation and organization tools, such as RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feeds and other tagging tools, as well as social messaging sites like Twitter, can create collaborative knowledge with the concerted efforts of all learners. All these tools have unique benefits that can help instructors reach out more to their students and increase the impact of learning.

Twitter is a micro-blogging platform for sharing different types of media files along with short and concise text, which can contribute to interaction in the classroom and improve the quality of knowledge imparted. There are three main ways in which the microblogging site can be utilized to support instructor-led learning: Pedagogical usage, Social usage and Management usage.

1. Pedagogical Usage

Since there is a word limit of 140 on the messages sent on Twitter, it is important to summarize and share short learning nuggets. For pedagogical purposes, there are various ways that an instructor or learner can utilize the platform.

  • Ask questions.
    Since in most cases, it is instructors who are ‘followed’ by the learners or ‘followers’, they can ask questions on the platform and invite answers. Keeping the questions to the point makes them easier to understand and unnecessary convoluted questions can be avoided, that can best be discussed on a face-to-face session. For learners, who are the followers, it is a challenge to keep the answers short, within the prescribed word limit. But this challenge itself teaches them the art of summarizing and answering questions pertinently.
  • Answer queries.
    Queries that are mailed or otherwise asked within the classroom can be answered on the platform as well. Especially, common queries that will benefit most learners can be best answered on the platform. The answers can be given in short, while the instructors can ask learners to elaborate in the class – creating an interactive activity that is supported by the social messaging platform.
  • Share resources.
    Both instructors can share resources that they recommend for increased knowledge. While instructors can simply write the name of supplementary texts, links or articles, learners can add to the list by answering on the same thread. Using hashtags such as #usefulresources can help learners search for the complete list of such resources within a group or series of tweets.

2. Social Usage

Learners and instructors do not spend a lot of time within the confines of the classroom and now more than ever before, a lot of learning takes place outside the classroom – even in an instructor-led scenario. A social messaging platform like Twitter can help the learners and instructors connect more.

  • Enhancing group experiences.
    The platform can be very useful when the learner group is not too familiar with each other and needs an ice-breaker session before coming to the class. For instance, before a lesson on the workings of the digestive system, the instructor can have an informal sharing session on the learners’ food preferences – favourite cuisine, favourite food, most hated food item and so on. This session can make learners more at ease with each other, as well as the instructor and can thus gain more out of the classroom session.
  • Giving Support.
    New members within a group can be supported with the social platform, with a special introduction message. Similarly, other support like feedback on chosen classroom topics or topics that can be discussed within or beyond the curriculum mandates can also be invited on the platform. Within the limited time in the classroom, these interactions cannot take place and the informal setting may encourage even the shiest learner to come up with brilliant ideas.
  • Providing encouragement.
    Accomplishments of the learner group or even individual learners can be applauded on the platform. Not only will this instil a sense of pride among the high achievers, others in the group will also be motivated to perform better.

3. Management Usage

Finally, the social platform can be utilized as a tool for learning management as well by instructors – especially if they are handling multiple group of learners or take up varied courses for a group of learners.

  • Notifications.
    Impending classroom sessions, assessments dates, important learning events like webinars or guest lectures can all be notified to the group of learners through social messaging on Twitter. Learners can re-tweet the notification to invite other peers to open events, thus increasing the scope of learning to a larger group.
  • Reminders.
    Similarly, reminders for important events can be shared on the platform to make sure that the learners can plan their schedules accordingly and don’t miss them. Hashtags can be utilized to create reminders for recurring events, making sure that they catch the learners’ eye even if they are skimming through the page.
  • Learning management.
    Course schedule and other details can be shared on the platform to ensure that the learners are aware of the entire program. The platform can also be utilized as a sign-in attendance sheet – where every learner is mandated to leave a reply at the beginning or end of the classroom session. The sign-ins can then be recorded to maintain attendance records.

The biggest benefit of Twitter as support tool for instructor-led training is that it allows multi-directional dialogue and free discussion as opposed to the discussion in the classroom, which is often restrained. While in the classroom, it is the instructor who speaks most of the time, Twitter interactions make sure that the knowledge is just not passively accepted from an instructor, but derived out of interactions between the entire group – learners as well as the instructor. So, at the hands of a skilled learning team, Twitter is a social learning interaction tool that can definitely enhance as well as strengthen the learning process.

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