Microblogging for EFL with Plurk

Well I never thought I'd say this, but I've become a fan of microblogging! I have to say that it's mainly because of Plurk. When I first saw Twitter some time back I couldn't really understand what all the fuss was about. I had a look at a few 'twitterers' sharing such information as what they had for lunch or that they were washing their hair and decided there are levels of detail at which information stops being informative - if you know what I mean.

Anyway, as the Twitter phenomenon continued to grow and other players joined the market I decided to give it another try. At the beginning of June I started a Twitter vs Plurk comparison. Now almost 6 weeks later, I have to say that for me Plurk has come out as a clear winner. Watch this demo to see why.

Here's a quick demo of Plurk and some of the features.

What I like about microblogging
  • One problem that I constantly have is the amount of information and new things I find that I'd like to share but just don't have time to research and write about. What I have found over the last few weeks is that mircoblogging allows me to share this information, admittedly with less depth, but I've been able to share links to resources that people might find useful, but which I don't have the time to explore in depth.
  • See my Plurk line here if you'd like to check out the sites I don't have time to write about: http://www.plurk.com/user/NikPeachey
What I like about Plurk
  • For me the best Plurk feature is the ability to embed video from YouTube and images into the Plurk. This enable users to watch the clip or image without leaving the Plurk interface.
  • I also really like the horizontal time line and the way you can scroll back through time lines and thread in comments. Threaded discussion can often become very disjointed and hard to follow on Twitter, but Plurk makes it much clearer which comments are related.
  • I like the distinction between friends and fans (friends Plurks can also appear on your line, whereas fans just subscribe to your feed)
  • I like the sense of accumulating 'karma' as you develop your plurk presence.
  • I love the Plurk widget (you can see it embedded towards the bottom of the right hand column on this page).
  • I really like that Plurk gives a choice of verbs for the message
So how about using microblogging with EFL studnts
As a teacher you could use microblogging to:
  • Share resources and links to useful websites or videos (they open in the interface so students don't have to search around YouTube for them.
  • Send out prompts and reminders to students about assignments and due dates.
  • You could just use the social aspect to share a bit of what you do each day with them
  • Send students images to comment on / describe
  • Send out words and ask students to respond with a definition.
  • Create single sentence assignments that students respond to wit single sentences.
  • Create sentences for the students to correct.
  • Create a collaborative story. You start the story with one line and each student has to add another using the response feature.
Your students could use microblogging to:
  • Create a learner diary, recording briefly their language learning activities and insights through the day.
  • Ask questions to the groups and get support with new words they find or things they don't understand.
  • Post a short sentence each day using a different one of the verbs in the Plurk line
  • Share good websites etc.
  • Share a little of their world and what they do when they aren't in class.
What I'm not so sure about
  • It's really hard for a competitor like Plurk to break into a market that Twitter almost invented, so despite the fact that I use Plurk more often and it seems to me a much better product, I've got far more followers on Twitter than I have on Plurk, so the audience potential is much greater with Twitter.
  • As ever privacy is something you need to be careful of, and I've found that a few people who have requested friendship only do so to 'spam' my time line. Though that's easy to sort out and stop.
Well which ever you use, whether it's TwitterPlurk or something else I hope you enjoy your microblogging experience.

Drop me a line if you know of other alternatives, or if you have used these microblogging applications in other ways. As always you comments are welcome (though moderated!).