Twitter Assignments

We find that a lot of instructors want to incorporate new technologies into their curricula as a way to engage students with tools that they’re comfortable with and would understand but aren’t always sure how to do that, particularly for tools the instructors themselves may not use on a regular basis.  Take Twitter.  When Twitter launched, people jumped out of their chairs, pointed at it and exlaimed, “That’s it! The next big thing!”  It clearly had potential.  The only problem was…no one knew for what. That’s still a problem for many people.  “Sure,” they think, “I could use Twitter…but I don’t know what I’d use it for. Especially not in the classroom.”

And while there are reports here and there of faculty using Twitter as a way to send messages to their students, or to receive questions or feedback from their students, actually using Twitter itself as a model for a class lesson is much less common.  However, it can be done and it can be done very well.

While surfing comments on the news aggregator community Reddit, I came across a link someone posted, a screenshot of an assignment that (supposedly, anyway) their History professor had given them.  I thought it was such an interesting and fun assignment that I had to post it.  Click here to read the assignment.

What will instructors think of next?  No, really–I’d like to know!

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Twitter in the Classroom?

To further the conversation on social tools like Twitter and their involvement in academia, here is an interesting little article from Mashable.com that details how a couple of courses at the University of Texas at Dallas and Purdue University have incorporated Twitter as a means of interacting with students despite the large enrollment numbers.  While audience response systems are very effective for receiving feedback from students on what they may or may not know, they generally lack the ability for participants to submit questions of their own, and often students are too nervous to raise their hand and ask.

What I found most interesting about this article was the following blurb:

The first thing I noticed when the class started using Twitter was how conversations continued inside and outside of class,” [David Parry, Professor of Emerging Media at the University of Texa] wrote. “Once students started Twittering I think they developed a sense of each other as people beyond the classroom space, rather than just students they saw twice a week for an hour and a half.” As a result, classroom conversation became more productive as “people were more willing to talk, and [be] more respectful of others.”

I think that being able to engage students about a particular subject long after they’ve left the classroom is extremely important and often very difficult to do and that, combined with the increased sense of community that is developed, makes this particular approach worth considering.

Read the full article here on Mashable.

The Social Media Revolution

The eLearning Technology blog has an interesting video up about the Social Media revolution that has overtaken much of the world. Some of the interesting statistics posted included:

  • 2009 US Department of Education study revealed that on average, online students out performed those receiving face-to-face instruction
  • 1 in 6 higher education students are enrolled in online curriculum
  • 80% of Twitter usage is on mobile devices…people update anywhere, anytime…imagine what that means for bad customer experiences?
  • Generation Y and Z consider e-mail passé…In 2009 Boston College stopped distributing e-mail addresses to incoming freshmen
  • According to Jeff Bezos 35% of book sales on Amazon are for the Kindle when available

I don’t think it’s quite news to most people these days that the changes in the way information is sent, sought out and digested has major implications for the way instructors teach and the way students learn, but I do think that often we don’t fully understand the scope of just how large Web 2.0 really is.