The digital scholar
The digital scholar

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The digital scholar

1.10  Making use of Twitter

In this activity you will consider how one academic has used Twitter as part of his digital scholarship.

Activity 3  Twitter as part of your personal learning network

Timing: Allow about 10 minutes

The following video was produced by Steve Wheeler in 2013 and discusses his personal learning network and the role Twitter plays in it. He also provides some tips on how to succeed with Twitter. Steve is Associate Professor of Learning Technologies at Plymouth University and is an advocate of the use of web 2.0 technologies in teaching, learning and research.

Watch the video and reflect on whether Steve’s practice matches your own or whether you might find his tips useful should you start using Twitter.

Write some notes or a blog post about your reflections.

Download this video clip.Video player: Steve Wheeler: my personal learning network
Skip transcript: Steve Wheeler: my personal learning network

Transcript: Steve Wheeler: my personal learning network

Steve Wheeler
Hello, and welcome to my lair. This is where all the creative stuff happens, in this space, here. Grainne Conole has sent me some questions to answer-- as if I haven't got enough work on already, Grainne! But, OK, in this instance I will help you with your un-keynote. So here we go.
First question. "What is your personal digital learning environment, and how do you use it?"
Well, I use a lot of different tools. I use Twitter, I use my Blogger account, I use WordPress, I use various other tools, like YouTube and Flickr. I use a Flip cam, which I'm using at the moment. I use a variety of different tools to actually help me to connect with people that I really want to connect with around the world-- people like you listening in today, perhaps.
Question number 2. "What are the main obstacles for building and maintaining a personal digital learning environment?" Well, firstly, ignorance. The fact that people often don't know what power and potential there is to these tools. You know, the ability to connect, to discuss, to amplify content. All of these are quite important. And if people don't know about them, then they're not going to use them.
And the other thing that I find is really difficult about people using Twitter is they don't persist long enough. They don't stay the course, and therefore they don't ever realise the potential-- the critical mass, if you like, which they need to have if they're going to get onto Twitter and use it properly. So persistence and learning, I think, are the two most important things there to actually remember. These are barriers-- ignorance and lack of persistence.
Question 3. "How has your use of technologies changed in the last five years?" Radically. It's changed a lot. Because five years ago, if you think about it, we didn't really have a lot of the tools that we've got now. We didn't really know much about Twitter, we didn't know much about Facebook, we didn't know much about tagging or about sharing videos or Flickr images.
That's changed incredibly, I think. And for me, personally, it's paid huge dividends, because I've managed to build up quite a considerable kind of network of people that I rely on and who follow what I'm doing, as well. So I think that's really important-- that, in five years, things have radically changed.
And finally, question number 4. "What are your views on the PLE-versus-VLE debate?"
Now, this is where I start to get really animated, because, as some of you know, I've been involved in lots of different debates over the years with this. You know, the idea that VLE and the PLE are opposed. Actually, I don't think there is so much of a binary.
I've been role-playing a lot, trying to play the devil's advocate, trying to get people discussing this. But I think there's more of a kind of a spectrum between the institutional VLE and the personal learning environment. I think, though, that the VLE, if it has any weaknesses, one of them is the homogenisation and the ring-fencing of content-- the idea that universities and colleges and schools want to protect their content and only allow it to be open to people that are bona fide. And also the idea that one size fits all, which patently is not true.
This is why a lot of students vote with their feet and go off and-- they use the VLE when have to, and they use Facebook and other tools when they want to. And that's, I think, the main difference. But there are loads of other differences, as well, which we won't go into now because we haven't got time.
I hope that's fine, Grainne. I hope you have a great un-keynote and I hope everyone enjoys themselves in Oviedo and Melbourne. God bless you all!
End transcript: Steve Wheeler: my personal learning network
Steve Wheeler: my personal learning network
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