I first saw this video on Twitter in the classroom on CNN when it was on the news back in June. It hits on some really exciting possibilities for Twitter in the classroom.
We’ve previously reviewed Twitter here and love it, but I still feel like it has that “Facebook stigma” attached to it–people are going to be afraid of bringing it into the classroom because it might generate problems. While it doesn’t get all of the negative education publicity that Facebook does, there are still enough athletes and celebrities saying dumb things on Twitter to drum up negative publicity.
I’d say with a little preparation and a little education for your students about how to use Twitter could outweigh or perhaps even eliminate any potential hang-ups you have with bringing Twitter to your students.
A few reasons to turn to Twitter now:
1) Students are already using it
I have heard more and more students talking about Twitter this school year than ever before. Some even claim that it has completely replaced Facebook as their social media medium of choice. If students already know how to use a particular app or website, it saves me the trouble of having to teach them. And, more often than not, they can even show me some things.
2) Twitter has response capabilities to replace expensive software like SmartBoard clickers
SmartBoard clickers are very costly, even just for one classroom set. If you factor in the additional expense of a SmartBoard, immediate response from your students becomes very costly. I’m not trying to knock the clickers–I love using mine and feel very fortunate to have them–but sometimes they can be very cumbersome, like at the beginning of the semester when I am loading in a new class or in those brief, wasted moments when students are logging in.
While Twitter cannot replace the individual answering and scoring, it does have the ability to allow students to give short answers, something that is impossible with clickers. Hashtags (#) in responses help consolidate answers. You won’t be able to score individually, but you will get some quick feedback.
Email seems ancient compared to Twitter. I’ve had students tweet me quick questions and was able to respond almost immediately. It’s a great option for students to have to reach me.
All right, I’m buying in. How should I set it up?
1) Establish an account
If you already have a personal Twitter account, I would consider establishing a teacher account for use with your students, unless, of course, you want your students to know your thoughts on the recent game or terrible restaurant you just visited. With new updates, it is very easy to switch between accounts that you own, so you do not have to deal with logging off and on constantly.
2) Make your students aware of the account
They’ll be thrilled to follow you (following means that they will get everything you tweet) and will be connected to whatever it is you choose to put up there.
3) Tweet often
How you use it is up to you. Probably the simplest use would be tweeting a brief recap of the day in class or any homework or questions you want students to consider at night. If you teach a subject that has interesting real world events going on, consider following a few relevant people and retweeting their thoughts to students.
It’s addicting. And you will find many, many uses for Twitter as you go.
Some of the more interesting uses we have seen:
1) Romeo & Juliet in real-time
The Royal Shakespeare Company put a modern spin on Shakespeare’s timeless play by bringing it to Twitter. You’ll often see this idea replicated, especially with historical events. Something I’d like to do, for example, the next time I teach American History is turn my grandfather’s experience in World War II into a Twitter event.
2) Instant response
I really like what I saw in that video up there. You might say that 140 characters isn’t much feedback from a student, but I would say it’s 140 characters more than I usually hear from the student who never says anything. Plus, 140 characters is a cap–it forces students to choose their ideas carefully and be succinct.
3) Generating conversations
You’d be surprised how receptive some celebrities, authors, etc. are to Twitter conversations. It would be beneficial for students to reach out to authors or figures that you are studying–maybe they’ll even get a response.
Literally hundreds more ideas you can consider:
Got a unique way to tweet? Tell us about it in the comments.
And don’t forget to follow us @ClassroomOven