Do We Learn More through Microblogging? by Tony Ratcliffe

Part of the series: Global Issues in Education

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Microblogging which engages readers can be a powerful source of informal learning. While there are other microblogs, the one at the top of my mind is Twitter.
If tweets (Twitter messages) and re-tweets (RTs) are missed or just glanced at in the Twitter stream of messages, there is likely no learning occurring. Of course, they may be found later during specific searches, and that leads to new circumstances. If they are read, something may be retained in memory. However, when readers respond with comments, send RTs, and even carry on conversations, I suggest the learning is much greater.
I’m thinking of the research about reflective writing. If one writes something that reflects on their prior knowledge or experience, or reflects in writing on a microblog entry and recognizes new learning, that learning may be strengthened by the writing. Tweets and RTs provide many pieces of useful information, and they often provide links to websites and blogs. When the tweets are reflective, this likely strengthens the informal learning.
Yes, the same applies to blogs, and you might expect it to a greater extent with more words used, but I often see blog postings go without comments or further discussion. Is it better with the immediacy of replying on Twitter, do links increase blog discussion, or is the powerful learning opportunity missed too often?
This guest post stemmed from my comments on another blog entry, How to Use Microblogging in Workplace Learning. My past students have been required to use reflective writing in learning journals. Preparing them, I have pointed them to the work of Dr Jenny Moon.
Tony Ratcliffe resides in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. With a Master of Distance Education, he is interested in pursuing doctoral studies in e-learning and learning technologies.
email: tony at
Twitter: @aeratcliffe

What do you think? Do you learn more through microblogging?

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