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Is 8% too high or too low?

Yesterday was my turn to write a blog post, but I totally blanked out and did not have any ideas what to write about.  So, my first action in a situation like this is to randomly browse the Internet. I have various news sources on my portal page (I use myYahoo to aggregate various RSS feeds – by the way, if this sounds foreign to you, please contact me – it is really easy to keep track of news, blog posts, and articles if you use one of the portal or RSS readers!) so I thought there would be something there that sparked my interest.  I look through “New York Times most e-mailed articles,” “Google trend search,” “Chronicle of Higher Education Wired Campus”  etc. and then I ran into a headline “Twitter used by 8% of adults ” (the article was from the Pew Internet & American Life Project).  OK, this is it.  I’m going to write about this article, but what exactly?  I’m not a big fan of Twitter, although I can see that it fills certain niche on the Internet.

So, I started wondering… is 8 % low or high?  As an instructional technology specialist at CTLT, I select various online tools to recommend to the faculty and staff.  So, one of the criteria I usually look at is how widely accepted certain tools are.  Well, 8%?  – it is not too low, but not high enough unless your instructional activity really harnesses the power of the tool and/or it has significant impacts on students’ learning.  As I read the article, I found out 18% of college students use Twitter, so that’s relatively high.  The decision to adopt certain tools depends on the audience (your students), so I should really think about my students’ patterns of behaviors and decide if it is worth while.

Another way to look at this number -8%- from my perspective is how it compares with other technology.  According to the Pew Internet and American Life Project Trend Data,  79% of all American adults use the Internet.  Out of those who use the Internet, 61% of adults post updates on Facebook and other social networking sites, 32% read blogs and 14% write or work on a blog, 66% watch online videos, 37% download music, 8% use online dating sites, and so on.  I always find this trend data fascinating (they even have teen behavior, mobile behavior, demographic break-down, etc.) so if you haven’t visited a site, or would need information on people’s behavior online, it is a good place to visit.

In closing, I’d like to show you a video on an example of Twitter in college classroom.  Again, I’m not personally a big fan of Twitter, but this video shows a great way to engage students using Twitter.  As always, if you’re interested using Twitter or other instructional technology, contact me and I’m more than happy to help (given that you’re ISU staff or faculty).