Twitter as a Learning Tool

Twitter as a Learning Tool

Twitter as a learning tool.  I have written about Twitter as a listening tool and a research tool.  Twitter as a learning tool is a new twist to this ever-growing service.

I was introduced to Twitter chats a few months ago, first attending #blogchat, then #B2Bchat and recently #LinkedInchat and wrote briefly about how they work and how to participate yourself.

As this platform evolves, I have found a most surprising value in using Twitter as a learning tool.New Learning School Graphic

There are now hundreds of Twitter chats scheduled and running.  You can find a listing of many of these chats here.

From my experience with the better organized chats like those mentioned above, there is always a moderator or two, a specific topic for the chat, and more and more frequently a guest host/moderator.  During the chat, specific questions are posed throughout the scheduled timeframe, and participants add their thoughts, suggestions, links and opinions in response to the questions.

A recent #B2Bchat topic was:

“What’s the next Big Idea in B2B?”

and the guest host was @billymitchell1, along with the regular moderation team.  During the chat Billy posed questions such as:

“Tools and strategies will get more sophisticated but it will be “back to basics” with a strong personal flavour?”


“How do you see a rebounding* economy shaping the way B2B marketing will change in 2011?”

Then during the ensuing hour, participants share their thoughts, links to supporting information and comment on others input.

Recognizing that the pace of these sessions is very fast, there are tools that have been developed that slow things down for you, allowing you to participate in a comfortable manner.  There are also web tools that capture the entire flow of tweets during the session and provide them to you in a PDF or HTML link.

My current favorite tools to use as a participant during chat sessions are Tweetchat and Tweetdeck.

Tweetchat is designed specifically for Chat sessions.  You simply enter the name of the chat that you want to participate in, and all the tweets that include the appropriate hashtag (#) are shown in a single column.  You can set the pace of refresh from every 5 seconds up to 60 seconds to make it comfortable for you to follow the flow.  In addition, a big time-savor is the tweet box at the top of the page where you enter your responses and ideas into the flow and the program automatically adds the hashtag and chat name for you ( #LinkedInChat as an example).  This feature alone will make the use of Tweetchat worthwhile.

During the chat, I also have Tweetdeck (you might have your own favorite like Hootsuite, Seesmic, etc.) open in a separate window, showing columns with any” DM’s” (Direct messages) that come in, along with any “Mentions” that occur.  Using these two columns, I am able to respond directly to any messages that others are directing or replying specifically to me.

My favorite webtool to use as a reference and for relationship building purposes is TweetReports.

Realizing that there is no way to be able to participate in every chat that might be of interest, there are services that capture the entire flow of the chat and provide a transcript for review when you do have the time.  My favorite web tool for this capability is Tweetreports.  This tool has many terrific capabilities that I am writing about in a future post, but for this topic of Twitter as a learning tool, it is invaluable.  Not only is it able to provide a full transcript of the “conversation” but also provides helpful information including:

  1. The top 10 Links from the chat.
  2. The top 10 Contributors during the chat.
  3. Most active Users during the chat.
  4. Most active Users by Retweet.

Here is the link to the most recent #B2BChat transcript and a view of the Most active Users and Re-tweeters:

tweetreports example most active and retweet graphic

If continuing to grow professionally, and to connect with those that are engaged with a topic important to you, consider using Twitter as a learning tool in your professional training planning in 2011.

Have you participated in a Twitterchat yet?  Which ones do you recommend?  Which tools are you finding most helpful to you?

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