Twitter has made headlines in some amazing news stories; breaking the news of China’s earthquake and helping a student get out of jail when he was arrested in Egypt for nothing more than taking a photo. Both of these incidents speak to the growing popularity of Twitter, but you may have the same questions I do: what is Twitter, who uses it, and can be harnessed as a learning tool?
Twitter is a free social networking tool that keeps people connected with one another and with sources of information. Twitter users submit updates, called “tweets”, about what they are doing at the moment. Tthese updates cannot exceed 140 characters.
Now how many folks are using Twitter? Twitter traffic is currently at 1.2 million users per month. These users are mostly male, young, and profess to be heavy users, saying they go on Twitter at least 6-8 times per month. See the demographic breakdown of users below:
Now, can Twitter be used for learning & development and if so how?
Here are some ways for you to consider:
Provide real time learning nuggets to either current or prospective employees
When you look at the demographics of usage you see it is heavily weighted toward the 18-24 and 25-34 age ranges. These are the Millennials and Generation Xer’s that companies are interested in recruiting as next generation leaders. It seems there can be a host of applications for recruiting new hires as well as providing knowledge to follow-up a learning event.
Follow-up to asynchronous webcasts
Twitter is a great tool for communicating and asking questions on conference calls and other types of static asynchronous conferencing. The added benefit of this is that using Twitter to connect allows you to keep a record of all the questions and comments, in a manner similar to a blog post.
Reinforcement or reminder on learning a new process or procedure
In a saturated world of content where the shelf life of knowledge keeps growing shorter and shorter, we are always looking for ways to reinforce new content. Twitter can accomplish this because it allows you to see quick snippets of content.
However, it is also important to note that while real people write most tweets, some are using the service for blasting marketing messages. In the later case, I believe users quickly see through this and look for authentic content to help them be more successful on their job.
So how are you using Twitter? Is it a viable tool for learning and development? Share your thoughts with me.
Finally if you are on twitter, be sure to “follow” me at: http://twitter.com/jcmeister