Twitter can be used for almost a thousand different reasons and used in a thousand different ways in the classroom. Just take a look at these few links below:
Twitter can be a great way to get other folks from the community and from all around the world involved in your classroom. It is a quick and easy platform that does not require much time. You can use it to easily organize sources you share through hash tags. Twitter is one of those tools that can easily supplement students’ learning in the classroom.
However, I have some “beef” with Twitter. Do not get me wrong, I like Twitter to an extent, but I believe there are far more academic platforms out there.
First of all, the word limit drives me insane. I get that it is the point of twitter, the “Short but sweet” motto and all, but I do not want my students to be short. I really enjoy pushing my students to just blast their thoughts out into the universe at its full glory.
Yes, summarizing is an effective skill.
Do you need twitter to teach students how to summarize? No.
Can Twitter be used as a tool to teach students to be concise? Yes.
But that’s not my jam. It’s not even my toast.
After having taught in my internship, I found that almost every single student thrived when I offered them the chance to write as much as they want with no pressure hanging over their heads. We did journal assignments and journal prompts as often as we could.
What I’m finding is that students rarely get the chance to discover their own voices. They need the opportunity to just rant and binge on words without anybody threatening to judge them on their character or their ability to write. Students need a “low stakes environment” to embroider their thoughts through words and come to understand themselves. Younger folk used to do this all the time; diaries and journals used to be huge, but in this digital age, writing has fallen off the radar and children rarely are introduced to journaling in a private sense because nothing on the internet is truly, entirely private. Most young folk enter the digital universe for some form of interaction rather than privacy, and so few students are given the chance to be completely alone with their thoughts. I like to provide that for my students.
I like to give my students the chance to have a voice without ever taking that power from them. I offer them the choice to get feedback or written responses from me if they so choose, but otherwise I do not read their entries; I only give them a mark for participation. The only rule is that they have to write as much as they can and as much as their hand can keep up with their thoughts.
Rather than ask my students to document their learning through twitter, I would much prefer to ask them to document their learning through in-depth self reflection. Students need to learn how to write with unbridled determination first, and then move on to concise language. I feel as though its like learning to walk before you learn how to run.
Another thing about Twitter: I find it incredibly easy to become disinterested. Twitter seems so messy to me sometimes and a little overwhelming that I find it difficult to actually stop and give a single care to every post. There’s so many posts that are about the exact same thing and so many posts that aren’t worth my time with very little way of knowing which post I should dedicate time to. Usually they just link to longer blog posts or longer articles on the internet anyways. Twitter blurs in front of my eyes a little too easily, and I can’t imagine my students would have an easier time with it than I.
Another thing: If you asked students to have their own twitter account, chances are they will be looking at other content most of the time. It would be something they would have to do outside of class because there is no way to monitor all 30 students at once to make sure they are remaining completely on task and looking at appropriate or relevant content. They might be sharing memes and all sorts of other content (like I definitely do on my account) that has nothing to do with the course, which would make it confusing for the teacher to shift through (sorry Professor…). The only way to truly combat that is to ask them to create a separate account but I can nearly guarantee you that no student is going to enjoy having to sign in and out of their two accounts if they have their own personal account.
Maybe I’m being negative, but I just find that most of the uses teachers seem excited about Twitter for do not seem really efficient to me. I find that there are other, better ways to do most of these things . However, I do believe that I would use twitter over Remind as a way to post about homework due dates and special events, as well as supplementary readings or even videos that would assist students and parents in keeping up with the semester.
Twitter is useful in so many ways if you’re willing to put up with all the possible ways it could be a pain or extra effort on everyone’s part, but it really isn’t my method of choice.