Twitter to Learners and Teachers: Run Along and Play...Somewhere Else

Posted on by Brooke

Twitter has published the coming changes to how it allows applications (programs) to use its service, and these changes spell debilitating problems for educators who use Twitter.

Teachers on Twitter overwhelmingly favor some form of "active learning" or constructivist pedagogy: whether in face-to-face or online courses, the idea is that students learn by doing, making, building (often collaboratively). As part of a typical learning cycle, the learner is exposed to knowledge or information or has an experience facilitated by the course designer, and then goes on to make something in response. By working (often with others) to create something (a paper, a debate, a presentation, a tool), the learner makes original connections between data points and thereby constructs new meanings for herself. The result is a perception-changing experience of the subject matter. Make sense? Making a thing > making meaning.

Twitter's changes will make it impossible for many educators on Twitter to facilitate the kinds of activities that accomplish this. For one depressing example, take Storify. Educators use the dickens out of Storify, for good reason. After a student has had some instructor-facilitated, varied experience mediated through (say) Twitter, blog posts, news articles, Facebook, and so on, she can use Storify to make meaning of that experience, and to create a digital narrative of that experience for others. But look at Twitter's "rule 5a" for Time lines:

Tweets that are grouped together into a timeline should not be rendered with non-Twitter content. e.g. comments, updates from other networks.

As far as I can see, this is a bullet in the head for the use of Storify with Twitter.

The "big picture" of Twitter's changes to its API can be seen in the quadrant at the bottom of the announcement…or even better, in Dan Wineman's improvement to the graphic. As I tweeted before, the graphic amounts to this:

  • business engagement, business analytics, consumer analytics = GOOD.
  • consumer engagement = BAD.

In Rene Ritchie's words, "Twitter wants to marginalize apps used by me, and maximize apps that would use me and my data."

Welcome to the Facebook-ization of Twitter, the perhaps inevitable result in services that are free to consumers and depend on leveraging their attention to advertisements. In a later post: "Welcome to App-dot-net."

[Twitter to Learners and Teachers: Run Along and Play...Somewhere Else was written by G. Brooke Lester for and was originally posted on 2012/08/17. Except as noted, it is © 2012 G. Brooke Lester and licensed for re-use only under CC BY-NC-ND 3.0.]