Monday, June 15, 2009

Today's Lesson: Students Will Be Able To Explain How a Global Network Responds to Current Events via Real-Time Search

Present events have created a perfect teachable moment.

In the time it took me to write that sentence, 93 new reports came across Twitter Search concerning the situation in Iran. Twitter Search updates automatically in real time and posts the number of updates since your last check right in the tab you've got it running through on your browser.

I've had classes of students use Twitter Search to create collaborative bibliographies as well as self-directed grammar reviews.

It's also a darn good way to explain how a global network responds to current events.

The ability to process and analyze real-time search is one of the fundamental 21st century skills. Unlike the traditional search functions most of us are used to, real-time search opens up many new possibilities: including the ability to use search as a broadcast tool.

We're now up to 435 new reports since I wrote that first sentence.

Real-time search is also a democratizing tool. It evens out the media playing field and gives each voice -- from the correspondents of major news organizations to the average persons-on-the-street -- equal time. Real-time search is carrying live and in real-time the news of what's going on right now in Iran; and it's doing a much more comprehensive job than any traditional media outlet.

This is something our kids need to understand.

And it's something that needs to be explained in no uncertain terms to the folks who would otherwise choose to block social media in schools.

Social-media-driven real-time search is currently producing a wealth of human knowledge. For what reason, barring ignorance, would we want to hide that from our students?

As for the updates? In the time it took me to jot out this post, over 1045 individual stories came through Twitter Search -- just on the situation in Iran. Stories, links, first-hand accounts, video feeds, Flickr galleries, and a whole lot more. Over 1045 news messages in the time it takes CNN to run commercials.

Here is the link to the #IranElection feed.


  1. I agree. The Iran Revolution is not being talked about enough by edubloggers. This is real history that we can partake of as active listeners. Teachers and educators should be leading the discussion drawing attention to the events in Iran. Keep this subject to the forefront.

  2. Bingo! I just had the #IranElection feed up on my screen (via a projector from my laptop), showing my students on this last day of classes what the world is really like. None of my students have Twitter accounts and they couldn't make one today at school if they wanted to -- Twitter is blocked to them. Life is happening and we can only look through the window :(


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