A decade ago the hot app on everyone’s desktop was PointCast, a personalized headline service of content emblazoned across your screensaver through a pre-RSS feed. No typing required, no link to click through. While on the phone or talking with a colleague at your desk you could glean the day’s hot news or gather learning-bites you subscribed to receive. Downtime be damned.
Before overloading corporate servers and attention spans, it catalyzed an international conversation about new ways to deliver information and help people learn. A little push, a little pull.
Twit ahead to today, and hyper-connected status updates fill the tiny spaces in our days like expanding foam sealant.
Why not augment the question, “What Are You Doing?” with “What Are You Learning?” or even “What Can Others Learn From?”
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 “…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 and linked, “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. One post said, “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.” She seminds 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.”
Let’s just avoid calling it twLearning.
I challenge everyone who reads this to try edu-twittering for a week. Tell us here you’re on board. We’ll learn together what happens.
This post was originally my April 2008 Fast Company column. It seems as relevant today as it was back then. It’s never too late to take the edu-twittering challenge.
Scott McLoed inspired me to revisit this article after I read his terrific post, “If You Were on Twitter.”
Marcia Conner consults with the world’s largest organizations on getting better at getting better. She recently published The New Social Learning: A Guide to Transforming Organizations Through Social Media. Follow her at twitter.com/marciamarcia to get a sense of what she’s learning and what she’s learning from others both on Twitter and around the globe.
[Image: Flickr user spaceamoeba]