Most education technologists will argue that our work is not about the tools, but about what the tools will allow educators and learners to do. Social media tools in particular, are so versatile they can be used for almost any purpose, from sharing your PhD experiences to learning about Maths or hearing a Nobel Peace prize winner speak.
However, very often it is the tool that becomes the obstacle. Yet another account to set up. Yet more functions to figure out. And there’s always more tools after that…It can be discouraging.
But there’s a cheat. You don’t always have to start from scratch. Most social media tools have some basic functions in common, that you are already familiar with and can always look for. Knowing those basic functions, and identifying them quickly, can speed up your ability to assess a social media tool for your practice. Once you’ve isolated the basic functions of a new tool, you can focus on exploring its special functions.
Providing cheat sheets is an essential part of my work with academic staff (see the Moodle Tool Guide evidence) ;-). I like to make learning easier, for educators and learners. I created a diagram a few years ago on those basic functions, to aid me and I’ve updated it now with examples from Facebook and Twitter, and posted it on Flickr. I hope you find it useful too.