What I’m learning


Ok, here’s a party trick I’d like to learn to do before I die. Interestingly enough, the process of learning how to do it and remembering it over time, could be one of those mind extenders that will contribute to the quality of my mental abilities over the long term! (not that my mental abilities have ever been that enviable.)

I used to say that I was geekier than most of my friends, but lately I’ve added more geeky people to my network, largely because of the tools geeks use to find each other and stay connected. I walk in two worlds. One world twitters. The other is baffled by it.

I’m a fairly frequent twitterer, but I try to keep my twitters somewhere between light and and newsworthy.

Here’s what Twitter has done for me. I have found some great recipes when I sent out a Twitter call. I know when friends are stuck in airports (I cringe with them) and when they make it home safely (I feel relieved). I know the coffee shop they’re working from and can stop by if I’m in the neighborhood. I know who is talking to whom about what. I can throw out a personal twitter much like office workers who chat over the cubicle wall. And I get instant technical support from my twitterverse.

This video does a great job of explaining Twitter and it’s value.

(By the way, I found this video from Cesar’s Twitter referencing a blog posting he wrote. He does a good job of describing his way of using Twitter)

I may be silly, but when I say, “how are you doing?” or “what have you been up to?” when I meet people on the street, I really want an answer to my question. But I don’t often randomly run into my friends from Austin or NY or DC or SF or PA. With Twitter, I get these chance encounters and learn what people are doing throughout the day. It gives me a connection that I need as I work at home alone.

But I also learn a lot of useful information from my friends’ twitters. Andy’s twitter turned me on to the idea of edu-Twittering. Writing for Fast Company, Marcia Conner coined the term “edu-Twittering” and even has a game plan to implement twitter-learning:

Imagine the potential for discovery if the people who you follow through Twitter or any social-network status updates rounded out their contributions with something educational. Learning would zing wild and flow free.

Here’s how you can help.


1. Add news-to-use.
If you micromessage personal feelings ala “… is feeling lazy tonight,” add something for the rest of us like, “Pizza at BestPitza on Sole Rd saved the night.” Even 1000 miles away, I might tuck away the tip and think to myself, “Lazy and clever” rather than “Lazy and wasting my time.”

2. Provoke us.
Howard Rheingold recently wrote, “http://tinyurl.com/2ycryk Excessive texting may signal mental illness.” I enjoyed seeing what Howard’s reads, and the article itself reframed my thinking about IM.

3. Promote something special.
Two films on my go-see list came from recommendations by people who I rarely talk with about movies. “Saw Making Trouble tonight. Good film, well done.”

4. Inspire us.
An amazing friend uses her lines for gems like, “…is choosing conviction over convenience.” Reminds me to sit up a bit straighter and do the hard work.

5. Ask for advice.
I recently saw this plea for assistance. “looking for a great job. mine’s a dud. if you know something I should pursue, tell me quickly.

I’ve already seen how that works. I know immediately when some of my blogger and podcaster friends have written or conducted an interesting interview. I get word of the latest cool toys from people who monitor those sort of things. I know what questions are floating out there and I answer them if I can. And I get instant technical support from my twitterverse.

I’m twitterfied and satisfied. And I don’t have a mental illness.

Oh and thanks for the heads up about Fast Company Andy! Just another example of something I learned from my twitterverse. I see that you just wrote an NCDD twitter with a link to an article about 9 benefits of Twitter for Bloggers. I’ll have to read it later.

Getting up from the computer to prove I don’t have a twitter mental illness.

I am participating in the 14th annual Technology, Colleges and Community [TCC2008] online conference Keynote session, “Chasing Squirrels in Online Learning” with Learning Times Founder Jonathan Finklestein. Here’s the speech description.

In this keynote, ‘Chasing Squirrels in Online Learning’, Learning in Real Time author Jonathan Finkelstein will explore unique, real-time online group and social networking activities that take learner engagement to the next level. Find out about innovative learning techniques and facilitation strategies that will open your eyes to what is possible while teaching and learning online.

He began his talk by asking us to reflect on a memorable learning moment. There are 91 participants in this speech and the responses were amazing. My response was, “When a teacher described me in a way I had never thought about. I wanted to be that person.” I didn’t add this point, but I feel to some extent, I am BECOMING that person.

I occurred to me that this is a great exercise for opening our Central Texas Dialogue and Deliberation Summit this Saturday. Do I dare suggest yet another change? It is certainly appropriate given our goal of creating a learning community.