Reflection on Twitter in Education

Posted on October 19, 2012

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Journal #3: Twitter in Education
Vanessa Crawford
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OBJECTIVE:

Connected. This word has taken on a whole new meaning in the past couple of years; one could argue that the digital connection seems to be playing a larger role than our daily human connections. More than ever, educators are encouraged to use social media outlets, such as Twitter, to play into the ever-expanding walls of the classroom. Our roles as teachers no longer end in the lecture hall or laboratory, and with the influx of tech-savvy students, there is a higher expectation to employ these new technologies.

In the video, he references an article titled, 100 Ways to Teach with Twitter. In it, there were some pretty surprising statistics including over one third of educators have used Twitter in their courses. Being both a student and teacher, I have yet to personally experience this but obviously many are choosing to dapple in the world of ‘tweets’.

REFLECTIVE:

My hesitation, especially as a Gen Y’er, surprises me, as usually I’m the first one to want to incorporate a new teaching tactic. At BCIT, we are encouraged to have many options for students to reach us. While I think it’s nice to be available, when does the student become oversaturated with ways to contact us and will it potentially cause problems? As it is, when I come into my office in the morning I have to check my voice messages, my e-mail, my alternate e-mail, two course discussion forums, and my Skype account to see if my students have tried to contact me. What if I slip up and forget to look in on the forum one day and all 80 students are in a panic about an assignment? I’m not convinced that adding another layer would be an effective way to streamline student-teacher communication.

I am most definitely a product of my technology-infused childhood, and yet the purpose of Twitter in the classroom seems to be lost on me. I understand its appeal; we all want to be heard and even better, acknowledged, and Twitter is a great outlet for that. Celebrities and corporations use it all the time to promote products, events, or just make us laugh. (@ConanO’Brien is an absolute riot!) I do, however, question its application to an educational setting and wonder if we’re trying impetuously to jump into whatever’s ‘trending’ for the sake of being trendy.

INTERPRETIVE:

One interesting point was made in the video that it could potentially hinder proper face-to-face communication or enable poor grammar and writing skills. There have been times that I’ve caught myself typing ‘w’ instead of ‘with’, or ‘tmw’ instead of ‘tomorrow’, but can this be blamed on Twitter? Texting? In my marking, I see how pitiful some students’ spelling is, but could we not fault spell-check too? At what point do we stop pointing fingers at technology for the dumbing-down of our society and take responsibility to learn a language correctly?

I’m not sure if I’m simply past the age where the kitschy lingo of ‘Tweet-speak’ is cool, but I feel like I’m lagging behind what’s in happening in the ‘Twittersphere’. For the first time in my life, I feel out of touch with what our youth are talking about! Without sounding facetious, maybe I am getting old and don’t care to learn new tricks. (#thingsoldpplsay) I’ve entered this unfamiliar territory where everyone knows the headlines before it even makes headlines. Here I am catching up on yesterdays news via… dare I say it… the radio, or worse, a newspaper!
DECISIONAL:

Perhaps I’m being a tad impervious to something that could be a great academic tool and simply need more examples of its effective use. Although I question Twitter’s validity as a teaching tool, I can see the value in using it as a broadcasting channel. Notifying students of scheduling changes or reminding them of an upcoming due date might be an effective way of reaching them in real-time. I want to flip this and ask, how might our students use it to communicate to us and to each other? Students may have a question in class but be too shy to raise their hand; instead they could pose the question to their peers by tweeting it, and get responses without interrupting the flow of the instructor’s lecture.

I did some more digging and found a vlog by a woman named Christine Morris who did a Twitter trial with a group of her students. One suggestion she made was to use Twitter as a bridge between other academic institutions. Within BC, we now have three schools that run Medical Radiography Programs. I could definitely see the benefit of students at all three schools having access to this informal back and forth. Geographically and culturally, the x-ray community is very different in Northern BC compared to the Lower Mainland or Vancouver Island, and having those varying perspectives would be really wonderful for our students.

As with any mode of communication, it has to be appropriate, timely, and not burdensome. So long as we use Twitter effectively, I could see its place in academia, especially since it doesn’t seem like it’s going anywhere anytime soon. I have a sneaking suspicion that more and more microblogging services will arise and educators will need to embrace them to avoid getting left behind.

Reference:

The Growing use of Twitter by Today’s Educators. Emergingteched. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GFP07a3ThAs&feature=player_embedded Retrieved Oct 18, 2012

100 Ways to Teach with Twitter. K. Walsh (Feb 7, 2010) http://www.emergingedtech.com/2010/02/100-ways-to-teach-with-twitter/ Retrieved Oct 17, 2012

Educational Tool: Twitter. Christine Morris (Feb 26, 2010) http://christinemorris.com/2009/02/educational-tool-twitter/ Retrieved Oct 17, 2012

Twitter https://twitter.com/logo Retrieved Oct 18, 2012

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