Counselling, Supervision, Training, Research, Teaching, Writing. Providing therapeutic services to the people of East Lancashire and beyond.

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Punk Education - Learning with Twitter!

I have been using computers since the 1980s, when I bought my first (and last) Amstrad. It was a portable, which meant it had it's own room in the house. How I marvelled at the green screen and dot matrix printer! Now I'm marvelling again, at the way I'm able to access and manage so much useful information flooding over the Internet. Google Chrome has taken my browsing into another realm: all my favourite sites are on the tool bar, snazzy extensions give me instant access to news feeds and the Evernote clipper. I can write a blog from there and shorten a long url before posting to Twitter.

I have been using Twitter as a research tool, checking out the articles posted by the Tweeters I follow, those interested in counselling and mental health. When I find a good article I return the favour and in this way a community of learning - a professional network - is built across the Web. My colleagues, Craig and Phil, at University Centre, Blackburn College, refer to this as "punk" education - learning that is informal and democratic, technology that takes knowledge out of elite universities and into the homes of citizens.

Just today I (finally) learnt how to use Google Reader and I have now subscribed to dozens of blogs, websites and podcasts. I can now dip into a stream of information about mental health as it travels down my computer screen. Anything interesting and I send it to Evernote, where I'm building a collection of interesting articles and opinion pieces. OK this is not a methodical approach to research, and I'm happy spending time in the library conducting detailed and systematic literature searches, but Google Reader is giving me an overview of what professionals in my field are writing, talking about and reading and it's great to be part of the conversation!

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