Thursday, June 16, 2011

Twitter Finds a Place in Schools

In this powerful CNN video, an East Los Angeles teacher, Enrique Legaspi, recaps how Twitter changed the dynamics of his social studies 8th grade class. Watch the video at this link, Twitter Finds a Place in the Classroom, and read the accompanying article. Let us know your response.

Not sure of how Twitter will work at the school system level. For instance, followers need not even have a Twitter account to get the tweets. Check this blog post, and note that there is also a Listen button on it to hear the blog read aloud: cool idea. Twitter in Schools: Getting Started. Do you think it is only the techies who are promoting Twitter? Do you realize that most universities and colleges already have a Twitter account and use it regularly to inform the public? Are you following your school's account? Are you following the one of your undergraduate institution? Do you know of school systems with Twitter accounts? If so, how are they using it?

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Jess said...

Now that I have been using Twitter for a couple of weeks, I can see the worth of using it professionally. I've found some very interesting resources while following YA authors, and I can even get on board with creating a class/course Twitter account. With a class account, I could assign students or groups of students as leaders for a unit. They could keep the account updated with daily or weekly updates about projects or discussion topics.

The aspect of Twitter that I don't see as purposeful is using it as a platform for whole class discussions. First of all, I think that sometimes face-to-face conversations are important. In society, we don't want to shift completely to identities masked by technology. There are times when online discussion is purposeful, though, to open up discussion beyond the 40 minute class period and to allow more voices to be heard. Personally, I feel that these types of online discussions should be bound in a more private forum. A wiki or Ning forum would serve the same purpose and not limit students to 140 characters. You may disagree, though,and if so, please convince me otherwise! I am a proponent of technology!

Judy said...

Jess, I see your point about privacy with social networking in the school setting. For that reason, you might prefer Edmodo over Twitter. Edmodo is set up for microblogging and other forms of sharing information. On the other hand, you might prefer Ning, which could also be used for microblogging as well as for other purposes.

Diana Coyne said...

I agree with Jess that after using Twitter in our grad class for the past couple of weeks I am excited about its educational uses- I even found some more ideas (geared to college but can be adapted) I think Jess brings up an interesting point about the importance of a face to face discussion. However, for me at the middle school level, it is difficult to get my kids to have discussions to begin with...many aren't confident in themselves and haven't fully developed their "own thinking..." so I wonder if using twitter to have short discussion might work as a scaffold for larger, whole class, face to face discussions?

Another way I think twitter would be beneficial is using the 140 character limit to your advantage. A major obstacle many of my students face is being able to identify the main idea of a passage- by limiting them to 140 characters this might just squeeze the most important information out of them!

I liked in the video how the teacher was showing the twitter discussion on the board, I think this probably helps the students be held accountable for what they write and it helps them process what other people are saying too.

rmannell said...

When I finally decided to join Twitter a few months back I wondered what was out there. Since that time, the network of contacts has grown as has the sharing of information. One of my favourite uses of Twitter is the alerts sent out announcing updates to class and school blogs. How else could I view and add supporting comments to children working in UK classes while I sit at my computer in Australia?

Chuck said...

I think Twitter is great way to spread mass information in a simple format. It is used to share news and information and has led to revolutions! So it would seem that the classroom would be a simple adaptation. However, there needs to be set guidelines to ensure the accounts are being monitored or in a control atmosphere in the class.

If teachers have their students sign up, who will be able to monitor the student's behavior or protect the student from outside bullying, or harassment. Through private forums, students would be limited from getting of track and exploring non-school areas and there would be a safe environment that could be easily monitored by the teacher.

The short character count enables Twitter to be quick thoughts and forces people (and students) to think main ideas in 140 characters. I think there needs to be private channels set up in school for each class. I think when you have students texting, you have no way to ensure they are just texting the group or their friends. You may even have parents say they want the school to pay for their students' text messages if they are required to use them in class. Not all students will have cellphones as well, so there needs to be a device for students to use in class that only sends/receives to the class channel.

Tim said...

At first I was not a fan of twitter, and did not see how it can be incorporated in the classroom. But after using it in class, I think that it is a great participation tool. I can see how quieter students might find it to be a great platform to speak from.

The part of Twitter that I think is most effective in the classroom is that it provides documentation of classroom participation. Having students tweet about videos or discussions in class make it easy for both students and teachers to track participation in class.

I don't think that Twitter is a substitution for face to face participation. Twitter only allows for limited responses on a topic. Not allowing for someones complete ideas to be expressed, which is a flaw to Twitter. It is great that it is giving quiet students a voice, something that they did not have in a conventional classroom.

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