My most frequent answer when asked how I learned something new is “Twitter.” Let me rephrase that. I should say that I follow on Twitter many smart people and I benefit from their willingness to share what they know…24/7. For example, most recently I’ve been scouring my Tweet Roll for updates on the accessibility of the new iPhone 3G S for users who are blind. It’s not difficult because I follow people who are dedicated to the topic, many of whom are blind and iPhone users, such as Shelly Brisbin and Josh de Lioncourt . How else would I know that there are 84 (and counting) accessible apps for the iPhone? Another case-in-point: I just now checked my Tweet Roll and was alerted to soundAMP, the “first assistive application that turns your iPhone and iPod touch into an interactive hearing device.”
But that’s just me. I’m confident that you too would find individuals and organizations that will keep you up to date on what interests you. Of course, family and friends can be followed on Twitter so you can always know what they had for breakfast or what they’re doing this weekend. But all of us in education would do well to learn about the relevant and engaging uses of Twitter for teaching and learning. We can simultaneously leverage the social network that our students are already participating in AND model how to use this and related tools (and the next hot technology) for academic and career advancement.
And we don’t have to make modifications or even accommodations for students with disabilities because of Accessible Twitter. I signed on some months ago and my favorite feature is the audio cue when I’m about to exceed the 140 character limit for my Tweet. Twitter provides this information in text-only format and I sometimes inadvertently ignore it, meaning that only part of my update gets posted. I also like the larger default text size and the color contrast. And all links can be accessed through the keyboard, so a user doesn’t have to be able to use a mouse.
So go ahead, Twitter is for everyone. To learn more about how to use Twitter for teaching and learning, visit the following: