Twitter!

twitter educationOriginally I thought twitter was an educational tool that would be of no use in the classroom. However, after a month of using twitter – Twitters simple yet attractive, easy to use 140 character restriction has won me over. I’ve quickly realised that twitter is possibly an invaluable and underrated educational tool.

Looking back on my use of twitter in the past month I’ve seen a great wealth of knowledge become available at my fingertips – in the literal sense. It’s a goldmine for resources and connecting with other educators from all corners of the globe. I’ve also noticed that it allows for professional development between educators as educators share content on an ongoing basis and establish lasting dialogues with other teachers as seen via the ‘granddad of education Twitter chats’ #edchat. (Social Media in Higher Education: A literature  review and research directions, Jan 2012). Focusing on dialogue, some articles even go as far as to say that:

combination of tweets and hashtags creates a unique form of communication that has become a new literacy practice(Greenhow & Gleason, 2012).

Another reason why I think twitter is invaluable in the classroom is we are trying to engage and teach students who only know of a world where they can google any topic given to them.They have never known a world without technology. This has been highlighted in U.S. studies were middle and secondary students in the United States have found that students believe academic experiences would be more engaging if they could use these tools at school(DeGennaro, 2008; Spires, Lee, Turner, & Johnson, 2008). As twitter is a free app which can be downloaded onto smart devices it’s an educational tool which could engage students. Also, just to reaffirm that sentence FREE APP! No hidden costs and can be accessed as long as you have a WiFi connection – dream resource?

However, despite the benefits and growing body of academic research that suggests that when social media when used correctly it can boost both learning outcomes and student engagement, there has been recent queries over the benefits of technology in the classroom. This can be seen by the recent publication of the recent OCED PISA assessment of digital skills stating that:

 even countries which have invested heavily in information and communication technologies (ICT) for education have seen no noticeable improvement in their performances in PISA results for reading, mathematics or science

Ironically enough, despite this outcry – most of this information was published and accessible via online platforms such as The Journal and Rte.

Despite this I have not be deterred and looked to see how other educators have embraced twitter – warts and all. The simple reason being I’ve found Twitter can be used to learn, collaborate, connect and inspire students and teachers both inside and outside the classroom. One good example of twitter being embraced and inspiring in a structured learning environment is in this twitter experiment.

Dr. Rankin, professor of History at UT Dallas, wanted to know how to reach more students and involve more people in class discussions both in and out of the classroom. She had heard of Twitter… She collaborated with a graduate student, Kim Smith, from the Emerging Media and Communications (EMAC) and reached out to EMAC faculty for advice.

One moment in the youtube clip that caught my attention was the simple fact that over forty students can discuss one topic at all once as opposed to the traditional one or two. Also, I liked that after class, it gives students a chance to go back hours after the class has ended and look at the varying discussions and ideas that were discussed in class. Another key factor as to why I think twitter is an excellent educational tool is the 140 characters really limits what you can say thus it forces people to convey their main idea or argument in a very condensed manner.

However, social media is powerful. It can be abused by people who do not want to be respectful of others online. Or it can simply be a lapse in judgement which has a lasting effect Refer to my previous blog on the dangers of tweeting and the future effect it could have on students lives. It’s why twitter is blocked in a lot of schools – and understandably so.

However, TWITTER IS FANTASTIC!!! I’m in love with all the resources and #edchat tweets which have significantly broadened my own horizon of knowledge and classroom resources. One example of classroom resources which I’ve fallen in love with it is

I’ve even started sketching my own version of it for my own classes.

historyMicrosoft Word - Document6

Before I end this blog I have to acknowledge the huge archives of online pictures being posted by these twitter accounts: https://twitter.com/oldpicsarchive, https://twitter.com/USNatArchives , https://twitter.com/historyepics, https://twitter.com/TIMEHistory, https://twitter.com/LIFE  and https://twitter.com/NLIreland. Archiving is a difficult process and the time and effort to make these archives free and easy to access on a public domain is outstanding! It has helped promote in class discussion which proves invaluable for engaging all levels in the classroom and is a resource that can be brought home! 

To finish this lengthy blog (hope you enjoyed it! 🙂 ), twitter is a powerful social media tool that has allowed the saying the pen is mightier than the sword to come alive – but online!

the pen is mighter than the sword


The articles I referred to in this blog are as follows:

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