Week 1 – Twitter, Digital Visitors & Residents and PLNs


By the end of this module, you should be able to:

  • Sign up for and use a Twitter account
  • Discuss the concept of “digital residents” vs. “digital visitors” and where you fit
  • Explain what a personal learning network is and be able to map your own PLN

Task List

1. Twitter

  • Visit and read / watch the materials on the module page

2. Digital Visitors and Residents

  • Visit and read / watch the materials on the module page
  • Watch the conversation with David White (details about asking David questions are provided in this section). The session will be at be at 11 AM Eastern Standard Time on Thursday January 15, 2015.
  • Post to the discussion form (on Canvas) about you experience mapping your comfort level with learning technologies

3. Personal Learning Networks

  • Visit and read / watch the materials on the module page
  • Post to the discussion forum on your personal learning network

Module Content

1. Twitter

We’re going to start things off with an introduction to one of the most popular social media tools. We want to begin with Twitter so that those interested in using it for the Google Hangouts with our course guests will have a basic knowledge of the tool prior to the first Hangout, which is this week.

It is NOT a requirement of this course that you have a Twitter account.

Twitter has become popular among educators for connecting with colleagues, sharing resources and even for use in class as a way of creating a “back channel” for learners. Business and other organizations are using Twitter for promotion and to communicate with customers / clients.

There are some basic terms that you should learn before using Twitter. These are all covered in the readings in more detail so we’re just going to give you a quick overview.

A “tweet” is a post to Twitter. Tweets can only be 140 characters or less.

If you’re sending a public tweet to someone directly, start your tweet with @ and their user name. For example, to send a public tweet to Heather you would start the tweet with@mctoonish (her Twitter user name). For Ryan, you would start your tweet with @rbanow. If you just want to mention them in the tweet, put their user name elsewhere in the tweet or start with a period before the @ (i.e. .@mctoonish for everyone to see the tweet).

E.g., tweet to someone:

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E.g., tweet mentioning another person:

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A retweet is when you share a Tweet that someone else has posted.

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A “hashtag” is a way of labeling a message for a particular topic. Heather’s tweet about working on a great project above includes the hashtag #ilt_usask. A hashtag has been created for this course to make it easy to follow along with any Twitter conversations related to the course. If you tweet about this course, please include #ilt_usask as part of your tweet.

A DM is a direct message. This is how you would send a private message via Twitter to another user. For you to send them a DM they must be one of your Twitter followers. For them them to replay, you must be one of their followers.

To learn more about Twitter, please complete the readings below.


2. Digital Residents

In his 2001 book Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants, Marc Prensky argued that “Our students today are all ‘native speakers’ of the digital language of computers, video games and the Internet.” (Presnkey, 2001). He went on to argue that the rest of us (I wasn’t quite 30 when the book came out) will never be quite as good at technology as those young “natives”.

When we assume that students know everything about using technology because of their year of birth however, we’re making a big, and likely wrong, assumption. Even if they know how to shoot a video and upload it to YouTube (and many of them don’t), do they know how to determine if Website is credible?

Also, when we assume that anyone who may be older than 30 or 40 doesn’t know how to use technology, or can’t learn to use it now because they didn’t grow up with it, we are again making a wrong assumption. Unfortunately, too many people have been hearing that they are “digital immigrants” or that they are simply too old to be trying out new technology, and they have come to believe it themselves.

David White from University of Arts, London has been working on a project related to this idea. Instead of the terms “digital native” and “digital immigrant” White talks of “digital residents” and “digital visitors” and avoids discussion of the age of the user, but rather focuses on the users comfort level with technology.

This week for our Google Hangout, we’ll be speaking with David about his work in this area. A discussion forum has been set up where you can post your questions for David, but you can also tweet questions using the course hasthag #ilt_usask. We will make sure that David sees your questions so that he can respond during the live Google Hangout.

 Visitors and Residents

Discussion Post

For this discussion on Canvas, watch this additional video from David White (see below) showing how to map out where you fall on a “visitors” and “residents” spectrum depending on the activities you’re engaged in. Post a reflection of no more than 250 words about this experience to the discussion forum “Visitors and Residents Mapping Activity”. Some questions you may wish to answer in your reflection include:

  • What did you think of this exercise?
  • What surprised you or what did you learn about yourself?
  • How might you use this with your own students?

Respond to the posts of other participants in the course. Try to keep your responses under 200 words.

Visitors and Residents Mapping Activity

 3. Personal Learning Networks (PLN)

Think about who you learn from on a regular basis. Who do you turn to for resources and recommendations? Who do you learn with? Think beyond your professional life and include those who fit this description in your personal life as well. All of these people are your personal learning network or PLN.

Your PLN likely contains colleagues, friends, family, teachers and even strangers (this might be when you ask a stranger for directions on the street or buy a book after reading online reviews by other shoppers). Digital PLNs have become very popular among educators who build and maintain their PLNs through the use of blogs, Twitter, YouTube, social bookmarking, Skype and other tools that you will learn about in this course.

In the following video, you will learn more about PLNs including their benefits and how to build your own digital PLN. Be sure to complete the discussion forum activity after viewing the video (see below).

 Introduction to Personal Learning Networks

Discussion Post

For this discussion on Canvas, think about the people in your own PLN (you don’t need to name them). How do connect with them? What types of things do you learn from them? What do they learn from you? How do you use digital tools to connect and share? How might you use them in the future?

Post a reflection of no more than 250 words about your PLN to the discussion forum “PLNs”. Respond to the posts of other participants in this course. Try to keep your responses to under 200 words.