Friday, 2 October 2015

Will Twitter continue to be the number one learning tool?

I probably blew the punchline with the title, but if you didn't know it already Twitter is rated the number one tool for learning every year and 2015 is no different.  Jane Hart compiles this list for the Centre for Learning Performance Technologies in the UK based on worldwide research http://c4lpt.co.uk/top100tools/.  This is great for us in the modern learning world as Twitter is clearly a tool that puts the individual at the heart and control of their own learning.  Given the history of dominance of Twitter, why question its position at the top of the charts?


1 - Twitter is considering becoming less micro.  If you haven't heard one thing that the gurus of the system are considering is upping the 140 characters that currently limit and effectively define micro-blogging.  There are talks of somewhere between another 10 characters (hardly a monumental shift and unlikely to largely change the world) and a complete re-think ending up with media-rich unlimited characters.  Now sure there's ways around this now and you could argue that more space creates huge opportunities... but then does Twitter just become Linked-In or suddenly a Facebook rival rather than complimentary service?  What's more risky is that it becomes an even greater marketing opportunity.  The great thing about 140 characters is that anything more has to be a link and as an individual I get to choose if I click, follow through or go back through the chain.  An unlimited Twitter to me flips the learning model back to a 'teacher' led drive with more pushing of content and less pull.  It could be a game changer with a huge negative step for learning.

2 - Video is on the rise.  But is it?  If you're observant you'll have noticed that the number two learning tool on the list is You Tube.  That follows if you think about it, if you need anything beyond a short sharp hit or links that Twitter offers you tend to have the option of a media-rich alternative in You Tube.  The thing I like best is that the two have a nice handoff at the moment so you can get informed on Twitter and the links take you to further media - great for self-directed learning.  Twitter launched Periscope earlier this year as a streaming service from Twitter.  But actually the service is a compliment like You Tube rather than direct competition.

3 - Multimedia synchronous interactive tools are going to take over.  I'm not convinced of this one either, but there may be a market share of Twitter users that drift to Blab and the like where they talk and share video rather than type.  Whilst I agree there's a need for the video conferencing type tools both in business and education, there's a beauty in the simplicity of Twitter that keeps it number one.  I love being in a Twitter chat and having the option to surf the net, research and tune in and out as the chat progresses - even forming sub-chats and following some interesting rabbit holes, these are things that are difficult to do in a video conference.  I very much see Twitter in the same vein as tools like SMS or text-messaging - they have their place and although the technology may not be new, it works and for now there's nothing better in the simplicity stakes.

4 - Something new.  There you have it, looking deep into my crystal ball I can conclude that there may be something new coming that will upend the king of learning in the social world. Of course I have no idea what it is or anything about it, but I think there's always space for an innovation that kills off the supreme being (think dinosaurs and video recorders).  What I think may be the new wave is a new input device and I think it may be something to do with wearable technology and our slant towards being on the move.  What if you could 'think' to type or communicate a full type vocabulary without speaking or needing a keyboard.  Not sure, I maybe spinning off here a little, but there will be a new challenger and time will tell if it has what it takes to take the title.

In the meantime Twitter is still an awesome tool for learning so tweet on.  For those wondering Google holds the three and four spot and even a Microsoft product rocks in at 5 - although we may need to re-define learning if we have to resort to Powerpoint to save us :)