Tweeting about Twitter for Teaching & Learning

In the fall of 2011 I was invited to give a keynote address to a conference on learning technology. In Singapore.

Sadly, I was to remain in Los Angeles. I delivered the talk virtually--using videoconferencing hardware.

For my topic, I picked: 26 Ways of Looking at Twitter: Three Frameworks for Teaching &  Learning.

If You Don't Know What Twitter Is, I Feel Your Pain.

If you don't know--and there's no reason you should care--twitter is an online service that sends and receives 140-character messages to and from cell phones and computers and other online devices.

The original idea of Twitter was to "blog" from your phone. That is: you'd type a short (SMS) text message, and it would quickly show up on a web site such as  This way, you could keep a kind of online diary, even while on-the-go.

Then Twitter exploded. 

People built all kinds of software tools to send "tweets" to and from all kinds of web sites. Twitter is much-talked-about. TV news shows now invite viewers to tweet (send them messages), and the messages are read on the air. (Phones are apparently too time-consuming, email too taxing.)

Doubling Down on Wallace Stevens.

After drafting my talk, I decided to crank it up a notch. I would not only invent 26 uses of Twitter for teaching and learning: I would write my talk in the form of tweets (140-character messages)--52 of them, to be exact.

My line of thinking began with Wallace Steven's poem "Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird." I thought I would double-down on Stevens' poem. If he could poeticize 13 ways of looking at a mere bird, I could certainly come up with 26 ways of looking at a software that allowed humans to tweet like birds.

And from 26 to 52--the number of playing cards in a deck, minus the jokers--seemed to give ample padding. I could write 26 tweets on how to use Twitter for teaching & learning, and another 26 around them about the reasoning process of why those 26 ways--and not some others.

And so began a presentation tweeting about Twitter.

--Edward R. O'Neill


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