Home > No. 44 Microblogging

No. 44 Microblogging (2009年03月10日)

カテゴリー: The Treasure Hunt Club
Marcel Van Amelsvoort
(Kanagawa Prefectural College of Foreign Studies)
Hello and welcome to the March Treasure hunt. This month we’ll look at
something I’m sure you’ve been hearing a lot about : microblogging.
Sound familiar? How about Twitter? Recently, I keep hearing
people―lots of people― talking about Twitter. Microblogging seems to
be one of those web trends that sounds kind of ridiculous at first,

but its popularity might mean that it provides a service that people
find useful. And if it is a useful communication tool, then it can
also be used as a language learning tool.

Microblogging is a type of short blog posting and tracking service.
Users write and post short texts of up to about 150 words (but usually
much less) and sometimes also post some images or audio. One of the
reasons for the popularity of microblogging is probably that postings
can be made or viewed from cell phones, not only PCs. This facilitates
mobile blogging.

There are several companies offering microblogging services at the
moment, but the most popular by far is Twitter (http://twitter.com/).
New competitors include Plurk and Jaiku (pronounced “haiku,” I
believe). These are similar to Twitter but have slightly different
features. Plurk (http://www.plurk.com/) allows you to see postings on a
timeline, and Jaiku (http://www.jaiku.com/) allows for a little more
customization (it is also a by-invitation-only service). Recently,
there are also some more specialized microblogging services. Yammer
(https://www.yammer.com/) is aimed at business people and Emodo
(http://www.edmodo.com/home/) is aimed at teachers and students.
These latter two services might be better for people who are interested
in connecting just a limited number of people into one microblogging

But what could you do with microblogging? How could you use it with
your learners? Well, Mercedes Castro gave a presentation at Wireless
Ready conference in Nagoya recently titled, Microblogging: Experiences
in language education. She suggested three fun activities. The first
is Create a Headline. Learners are given a news story in class and for
homework they have to come up with a headline for it. Suggestions are
sent out and discussed via microblogging all week until a suitable
headline is agreed upon. Another activity she uses is Collaborative
Story Writing. With a limit of only about 150 characters at a time,
learners take turns adding bits to a story that they write together.
I’ve done this activity in class on paper and it is usually a lot of
fun. The last activity is the 20-Questions Game. This activity is
probably familiar to most teachers. Learners take turns asking yes or
no questions until they guess the “secret” person the other player has
chosen. Microblogging is ideal for this activity.

Well, that’s it for this month. See you next month or see you online.