Monday, November 16, 2009

Microblogging and Social Networking

Microblogging is a form of sending and receiving short messages that can be open to public or accessed by a selected group of people as well. There are different websites that offer microblogging services such as twitter, tumblr, plurk, etc.

Microbloggin is a way to establish social networking and people use social networking for a variety of purposes; business, education, fun, socializing, etc. Given these characteristics, m icroblogging has become an ideal tool for collaborative work.

One of the most popular microblogging tools is twitter. It allows people to communicate quick ideas either about unimportant events or for relevant themes of common interest. The way I see it, twitter and in general microblogging can be a useful tool for language teaching and learning in a community.

Some of the advantages of twitter, is that being so popular, makes it attractive for students to participate in particular language discussions or tasks. Students feel motivated to participate because it implies writing short texts instead of long writing assignments. They can also share ideas and discuss topics, as well as receive and provide instant feedback from tutors and peers which makes it more dynamic than e-mail or virtual classroom platforms for example. Therefore, it can be used as in-class activity or as homework.

For some settings, for example with advanced learners, one disadvantage of microblogging could be the limitation in the number of character (140) as they might be expected to compose longer and more elaborated pieces of work. Also, students can divert the topic very easily from the one originally proposed by the tutor. It might be useful for informal, short tasks but not for formal assignments.

In my particular context, I find it a bit difficult to use it with young learners because of their limited computer and literacy skills. However, some activities could be designed in which they receive assistance from their parents to share ideas about a book or story they have read or to talk about a specific topic established by the teacher.

In sum, microblogging and networking are important tools that should be considered by language tutors so as to generate a sense of collaborative learning with meaningful and practical purposes.

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