Twitter in the classroom?

May 19 2013 Published by under [Education&Careers]

Now that the semester is done I always find it useful to jot a few notes down for my January 2014 self who will be stressing about getting this class together again just after the NSF deadline. I took a slightly different teaching approach this year, incorporating ideas like Think - Pair - Share and the use of clickers. In the end, I didn't find the clickers as useful as I thought I would. I'm not sure that I would ask the students to spend the money on them in the future. The TPS worked well, however, and I may expand it's use going forward.

One thing I experimented with was using Twitter in the class. I did so on a limited basis, but largely found it useful. I'm hoping to use it more next spring, even holding virtual office hours via twitter. There's a considerable number of blog posts out there on classroom twitter, but obviously not every approach is going to work in every class. My plan is the following, but I would be happy to hear other suggestions.

1) Have times where I am available to discuss class concepts via twitter. I'm not sure whether it's me or the general faculty/student interactions here, but if I have one student show up during office hours all semester, it's surprising. My hope is that I can encourage interaction and discussion over twitter, and that might even lead to more face-to-face time once the students feel realize I'm available to talk.

2) Make non-essential class announcements, like who is going to be presenting on a given day, reminders about certain labs that they need to be prepared for.

3) RT science links related to the class. A large part of my motivation for doing this is to get the students more broadly involved in the community of science. If I can get them to check out a few links, all the better.

4) Assign them to find at least 5 scientist or science writers to follow. Why do all the work myself?

5) Tweet example exam questions.

6) Ask questions that need to be answered in a single tweet, requiring succinct explanations. Maybe that'll cut down on the knowledge barfing on many exam questions, but it'll make them think about word use, for sure.

I'm sure additional ways to interact will come from this exercise, but this is a start. I'm hoping that it will not only encourage the students to interact more, but it'll break down some of the barriers that seem to exist from one side of the podium to the other.

8 responses so far

  • Dude, you are fucken kidding, right????

  • proflikesubstance says:

    Yup, this is all an elaborate ruse.

  • Caitlin says:

    I was a TA for an intro bio lab last semester. When I realized that my students checked their twitter feeds more often than they read their emails, I started tweeting with/at them. I did a lot of the thing on your list — RT science links (especially to radiolab shows), reminders before labs (especially if we had a field trip or an assignment due), sample questions before exams, announcing office hours, and pictures of my dog (they loved my dog). I think it worked reasonably well, but the lectures and class activities were still the most important part of my lesson planning. When I could find links that fit into our class discussions, it was nice to be able to RT and continue the conversation. However, that didn't guarantee that the would follow up and actually read the extras...

  • Mac says:

    Glad this works for you. I go backand forth on things like this, on the one hand they are more likely to look at it than at my e-mails and on the other hand they SHOULD read my e-mails and check ou the course website. I used Facebook to organize a group of undergrad researchers and it worked better than e-mail b/c when they forgot to hit 'reply all' on e-mail I had to send it back out to everyone, on FB the whole discussion is there (plus they check FB) . It worked but I do worry that I am not holding them sufficiently accountable. Once they graduate it's unlikely that their boss will communicate by FB and they should get used to the idea of checking their e-mail and responding appropriately in a timely way. I haven't decided for myself yet which aspects of this I should take a stand on and which I should let go to facilitate getting them the info in whatever forms works.

  • AK says:

    These all sound very interesting. I think I may try a couple this coming Fall.

  • proflikesubstance says:

    It worked but I do worry that I am not holding them sufficiently accountable.

    This is why I plan to only send out non-essential announcements. Everything else is on the syllabus and they need to keep tabs on that.

  • DrLizzyMoore says:

    I think any tool that gets the students to be engaged, or even, more engaged is a good one.

    As an aside, it would be a good introduction into how a professional keeps and uses a twitter account/social media.

  • "This is why I plan to only send out non-essential announcements."

    Why the fucke are you sending out nonessential announcements at all? If it's nonessential, then put a fucken sock in it.

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