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Publish or Perish
Educational Content at a Crossroads

By Clark Quinn / October 2009

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  • Thu, 01 Jul 2010
    Post by Lisa Chamberlin

    That same Faculty Focus report ALSO said that Twitter is being adopted by higher education at a faster rate than it is by the general Internet-using public..."Twitters footprint reached 10.7 percent of all active Internet users as of June 2009 according to market-research firm Nielsen Company, so it would appear that higher education professionals are adopting Twitter at a faster rate than the average Internet user" (p. 9). So, while there are those who are vehemently against this latest Internet "fad", they will be assimilated. In fact, 3/4ths of the respondents expected to see their Twitter use rise.

    Bottom line is there is a bit of a learning curve as you figure out the follower/followee relationship. And, until you "get it" - you just don't get it. And once you do, you wonder why everyone isn't reaping the benefits of the give and take.

  • Tue, 08 Jun 2010
    Post by James Durkan

    Hend, I don't think the problems you raise are inevitable. I've found twitter invaluable. Spamming is not an issue and I find that the barrier of 140 characters forces me to be more disciplined.

    I've experimented, quite satisfactorily, with tweeting a lecture (as a learner). I found that it was by no means a passive experience. I had to concentrate hard on actively listening so that I could create a series of 140-character synopses of the lecture and its key-points.

    There are other valuable contributions that twitter can offer. A regrettable shortcoming of HE is that it focuses on equipping the student with the knowledge (cognitive domain) to play a role. This is to the detriment of imbuing them with the appropriate attitude and behavior (affective and behavioral domains) for that role. Shadowing a respected member of the chosen field via twitter can really round off the learning experience. It also provides the added value of underpinning the HE learning by creating a strong association with real world experience.

  • Mon, 07 Jun 2010
    Post by heaba

    I think it is unfair to blame any particular piece of technology on the inability of its potential users to adopt it to their particular needs. Twitter has its limitations, of cause, but so most of other Social Media tools out there.I believe Twitter is a powerful social learning tool - for both formal and informal learning - as I have demonstrated in my free How-To guide. --------------------------------------- New Technology

  • Wed, 26 May 2010
    Post by Jenny

    I think it is unfair to blame any particular piece of technology on the inability of its potential users to adopt it to their particular needs. Twitter has its limitations, of cause, but so most of other Social Media tools out there. There are also a number of advantages in using these tools. The trick is not to be afraid to experiment with various technologies - if some of these are not suited for your particular course structure and teaching methods there are always other tools that would.

    I wonder what response Facebook would get from a similar survey?

  • Sat, 22 May 2010
    Post by Jane Hart

    I believe Twitter is a powerful social learning tool - for both formal and informal learning - as I have demonstrated in my free How-To guide. Those who can't see Twitter's future in HE, should take a look at the wide range of ways it supports social learning. You'll find the free guide here -

  • Fri, 21 May 2010
    Post by Leon Cygman

    You said it yourself - "more than half the surveyed faculty members think Twitter has no future in academia or potential use in higher education". Just because it is a fad and many young people are using it, that does not mean that it is suitable for educational purposes. From my observations, the majority of posts are trivial, ego-centric and have little social value; then maybe I am following the wrong people. I guess I'm one of those educators who feel the same as the ones in the survey. Although an interesting phenomenon and a novel way to communicate, I did not see it as an educational tool, especially when there are so many others that can be used to provide a much richer teacher-learner environment.

  • Fri, 21 May 2010
    Post by Rex

    We recognized these same issues when we set out to build a web app that fixed them. The result was HootCourse, a web app that lets instructors easily use Twitter and Facebook in their classes.

    We're running a Summer beta program-- The more feedback we get, the better our solutions become. If you're reading this; you're invited. Just Google "HootCourse"

  • Wed, 28 Oct 2009
    Post by Steven Zucker

    Thank you for your thoughtful article. Far too often discussion of digital texts cite price and weight but ignore any discussion of the critical relationship between content and design. At we encourage content creators to look beyond the familiar organizational structure of the textbook and its analogue finding aids. Open textbooks ought to take advantage of the webs inherent strengths and allow users to organize material in numerous ways while pointing outward to high quality resources elsewhere on the web. Hopefully, these new resources will seamlessly incorporate multimedia allowing users to listen, read, watch and most importantly respond. Here is an opportunity to directly engage students, allowing them to initiate or join conversations both in and outside the confines of the text. begins to do this. It is a free, award-winning and web-based art history text. Its content is supported by its design and we believe that its broad adoption is due in part to its focus on user experience.

  • Fri, 23 Oct 2009
    Post by Clark Quinn

    Mark, thanks for the thoughtful response. I do agree that there have been a lot of experiments, but this is meant as a rallying call to strive for transformation, not just information.

    And I did mean more than just learning objects, and very much do mean focusing on how to create a meaningful experience, but under pragmatic constraints. I am concerned about the instructor experience, too, but by focusing on engaging learners in more meaningful activity, I believe the instructor gets to move from knowledge provider to discussion facilitator, and that should be a more rewarding activity (if you really care about the material and the learner, which can be an issue :).

    And by engagement, I mean a combination of things (cf my book, Engaging Learning): challenge, meaningfulness, active exploration, and more. The alignment between effective educational practice and engaging experiences drives my view.

    Thanks again, and I'll look forward to your thoughts on the tension between content and experience.

  • Thu, 22 Oct 2009
    Post by Mark Notess

    I do think that disruptive technologies and differing abilities to react to those technologies will reconfigure the textbook publishing space, and I wholeheartedly agree that learner experience design is key. I would add that instructor experience is just as important, but perhaps you're including both by expressing it as "learning" experience design? Certainly there are many assumptions made throughout the value chain about what's needed in the student and instructor experience, but I don't always see much interest in publishers understanding that experience at a deep enough level to truly transform it. Instead they seem to throw new technologies at it, in the name of innovation, and see what sticks.

    While reading this I wondered if you were merely wanting publishing to reconfigure itself to embrace reusable learning objects and something like a learning activity management system. Do you envision more than that?

    I found an interesting tension in this article between content and experience. I want to say more about that, but I'll have to think about it for awhile first.

    I've written elsewhere in the publication about the ambiguity surrounding the term "engagement". What do you mean here by "alignment with engagement"?

    Thanks for the article!