Summarising lectures and the need to tweet.

I tweeted my first lecture tonight. Stephen Abram was a guest of Geelong Regional Libraries, and delivered a rollercoaster ride through the topics of information retrieval, information delivery, and information services (i.e. Internet searching, books & mobile devices, and libraries). At the end of 90 minutes he apologised for going a couple of minutes over time, and the guy beside me said “He can go another couple of hours if he wants!” I think we all felt the same.

I’ve already tweeted a few of Stephen Abram’s points, and some more are on the IDEAS page, so I won’t talk about them now. I want to say how difficult it was to tweet ideas from a lecture. Difficult, but incredibly rewarding. I tried to send something about most of his main points, and almost every time I struggled with the 140 character limit  – I really had fewer than 140 because I wanted to add his name, and a hashtag. I think there are three reasons this is a very powerful learning activity:

1. I had to listen very attentively, and because I was trying to summarise the main points, I didn’t zone out like I often do in a 90-minute presentation.

2. Writing summaries is an old trick for people trying to learn in a lecture. Didn’t Plato recommend it? But writing very very short summaries adds a degree of difficulty that forces you to leave out everything except the main idea. And sometimes it is very difficult to put that main idea into words! Thinking around a concept helps you understand it better. Sifting the central idea from a lot of clever analogies and funny anecdotes helps you understand it better. Trimming an idea down to less than 140 characters helps you understand it better!

3. I can go back and look at my tweets and rebuild what Stephen Abram was saying. You could call it revision. You could suggest that I expand these tweets into a full-text summary of the lecture. You could do it yourself from my tweets.

You could. Unfortunately, my brain has just logged off for the night – but I will go back to those points again tomorrow, and that will help me remember more. Who knows, I might even blog about them – there are simply so many Big Ideas there. Lots to think about. But my brain really is  shutting down. Even if I ju .        .         .         .         .         .         .


3 thoughts on “Summarising lectures and the need to tweet.

  1. Hi Russell. I’ve just embarked upon my twittering journey and am not seeing the benefits just yet so it was good to read here how you actually used twitter in a “real-life” situation. Thanks!

  2. Hi Infobrarian,
    Thanks for the summary on how you tweeted a lecture. I think I will be doing that in the next couple of months, so have taken a few tips from you.

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