Monday, January 25, 2010

Twitter: A Professional Learning Network

Everett M. Rogers known for the “Diffusion of Innovation” model classifies individuals as they pass through various stages of adopting innovation. The following stages are described by Rogers (2005):
1. Innovators – the first 2.5% of adopters, risk-takers, change-agents, willing to pursue initial challenges, bugs, etc.
2. Early Adopters – the next 13.5% of adopters, opinion leaders, visionaries, like to try new ideas
3. Early Majority – the next 34% of adopters, careful and accepting of change, motivated by evolutionary changes, want things to move quickly
4. Late Majority – the next 34% of adopters, skeptical, traditional, will use once the majority is already using it
5. Laggards – the last 16% of adopters, like status quo, critical, will use once it becomes mainstream

My Stages of Twitter Adoption
A colleague introduced me to Twitter (a micro blogging service) and persuaded me to create an account. I believe my colleague could be identified as an “Innovator” in Roger’s stages of adoption. There were very few people using Twitter at the time. It was difficult at that time to really understand what one could do in Twitter or the value as there were not many users (that is, from my perspective). During one of my summer classes in July 2009 as I was building a pathfinder wiki to determine my research interests, I came across a number of scholars in the educational technology field that were using Twitter. I decided it was time to login to my account that had been abandoned for quite some time. Would I be considered an early adopter or in the early majority according to Roger's stages of adoption? The turning point for me was when I made the decision to use Twitter to build a professional learning network. After implementing Twitter on a regular basis for six months into my daily routine, I would like to share the benefits in building a professional learning network.

When I first heard about Twitter, I too did not see the value in reading 140 character updates about “What’s happening.” However, once I started using Twitter and following people also interested in educational technology, I immediately saw the benefits, such as:
1) Connecting - I connect to others with a similar interest in the field of educational technology. When I check Twitter (generally once per day from my iphone), I receive numerous links, tips, articles, thought-provoking questions, etc. that I can choose to ignore or pursue. The majority of tweets are ones that I click on and pursue further.

2) Sharing- I generally tweet once per day to share resources related to educational technology with others (i.e. links to blogs, wikis, books, podcasts, video clips, conferences, articles)

3) Organizing - By tweeting I also have an accumulated list of all my tweets now sorted by date and stored in my profile. Anyone can access or search this list.

4) Collaborating – there are people I know that do not work/live in close proximity. We can now collaborate in finding and sharing resources and ideas through Twitter.

5) Providing Feedback – the idea of having a backchannel and using this in professional development settings is one that I will be exploring further this week. Participants find it intriguing to see how Twitter can be used as a means of asking a presenter questions or providing immediate feedback.

6) Communicating – most of the communication is happening asynchronously in Twitter. I’m also noticing that Twitter is being used to organize synchronous chat/video events.

7) Corroborating – I often retweet posts that I find useful. When I read messages that begin with RT (for retweets), I consider it a validation that now more than one individual found the message valuable to read.

All of the benefits I have found in using Twitter are based on a reciprocal relationship between producer-consumer. Sometimes I’m a producer and sometimes I’m a consumer in Twitter. Similarly, Clay Shirky’s video, “How Social Media can Make History” emphasizes the idea of the reciprocal relationship between producer-consumer. Shirky also indicates that media is "less about crafting a single message" and more about inviting discussion and provoking thought about the message. Marshall McLuhan had a good point and was so ahead of his time- the medium is the, global, ubiquitous, cheap!

Eric Marvin posted a great question on his "Teaching Teachers" blog at

What leading twitter questions should guide the tweets of a PLN?
I reflected on Mark’s question as well as my own adoption of Twitter which led to some questions to guide the tweets of educational technology PLN's:
· How are you contributing to the field of educational technology?
· What resources would you recommend to those interested in educational technology?
· What are others contributing to the field of educational technology that you would like to share with your PLN?
· What questions do you have that may stimulate professional dialogue regarding educational technology?

What are the questions that quide your PLN?

1 comment:

anandhi said...

Wonderful blog & good post.Its really helpful for me, awaiting for more new post. Keep Blogging!