Thursday, 14 May 2009

Twitter - a tool for education 2!

Had a really stimulating comment to my earlier post re Twitter and education - Thank you Anne Marie - It's just great that people read this stuff :-)

Okay, I know I should post this as a comment but I did not want to lose my thoughts in a comment - I also cheekily thought that other comments might flow to this post with some other ideas.

Blogging, by the way, is just great for getting you thinking and comments on the blog take that thinking to the next level. I like blogging me and I like learning too :-) Keep them comments coming. Rambling now. hmm, not so good after all. To business ...

The comment related to the use of Twitter as a tool for educational purposes and what might it *really* add in terms of communicating with students. I have to agree that was aligned with my original thoughts too. i.e. What seriously can we do with 140 chars? But after my introductory tour from Lindsay Jordan, and observations that I should immerse myself and have a go, I have become converted.

... and so I can honestly see some uses of Twitter for genuine educational gains. Sure, it's not the answer to everything, but little is. An essay does not explore students' numerical understanding nor their practical problem solving ability. In fact you might argue that a 3000 word essay does little to promote crispness of thought. Equally, Twitter has a certain functionality that might limit it's use but its functionality might be useful in specific situations.

I have dumped a few thoughts together with a minor preamble ...

I'm keen on Just-In-Time-Teaching (JiTT) (Novak et al) and also the Classroom Assessment Techniques (CAT) wonderfully described, collated and themed by Angelo and Cross.

Hence how about using Twitter as a tool to collect responses to a One Minute Paper?

* What did you learn today?
* what was the stickiest / muddiest point?
* What questions remian uppermost in your mind?
* What two things do you want me to cover next week?
* What question do you think your peers should be able to answer based on this weeks lecture.

I'm sure you get the picture and can add to my quick question list. Using a #hashtag will allow you to keep all the response together for each weeks questions. Not only do you get them thinking but you get a large resource for them to review.

I'm keen too that we see our students as valuable resources and so from one post each (in a class of 100) they get to see 100 posts - not a bad return.

I have written elsewhere that some of these questions they might just copy - and indeed that might be okay for the muddiest point etc, but other questions might explicitly require an individual response.

i.e. drawing on today's lecture relate the content / concept / idea to an experience that you have had. i.e. get them to relate it to them. That way they can't copy.

And then you write if your idea is already on the list then you have to write another. Not only does that get reading what others have posted, which in itself is good, but it gets them doing stuff quickly - i.e. reduces cramming - helps develop reflection and inculcates an appropriate study pattern

* What about asking students to post think-alouds to Twitter outside the class as they are thinking about the module? Guess these should really be called tweet-alouds (Russell, 2009).

* You might go further and ask if you had 140 characters per post and you could 5 posts two days after the lecture what would you posts be? Make those posts now.

* Or, as you open up the coursework what things are you thinking?
What theories will you draw on?
How will you show that ...

I think all of these have some genuine potential and could be used both inside the class (CAT) and also outside the class Non-CAT! and to support adaptive teaching, student centered teaching or JiTT.


(ps am I rambling still?)



Anne Marie said...

That's really useful. To be honest, I read your post about the votinh systems after I made my comment and I started to get a flavour of what you meant.

We have just got got a new voting/response system which allows text based responses as well as multiple choice and only cost £30 each, I'm told.

I;m looking forward to hearing about the engagement that these techniques actually encourage. I guess I have been using a discussion forum for some of this content.

I'm still thinking about it and why your solution might have extra benefits.

What do you think about the public nature of twitter? Is that a big plus or hindrance in education?

MarkRussell said...

Hi Anne Marie :-)

Sounds like you have the same system as me. Interwrite RF?

I bought it since I wanted text too. But it's not as easy as texting from phones. Do let me know how you get on.

Open access has its benefits and limitations. You might get spamers, you might get others dumping stuff that is a bit off-topic. But you might also get others adding some great input. I have been tweeting to meetings when I have not been 'in' the meeting. i.e. making online contributions. I can't comment if they have been positive contributions :-) But what about hooking up with other Uni's and getting them to share tweets on the same topic. Take this further and bring in overseas Uni's and immediately you bring in other voices that your group may not have heard. Great way to start internationlising the curricula. Industrial partners adding tweets too with some concrete ideas on top of the abstract ideas. Just some more thoughts.

Again, do let me know how you get on. I'm always learning.


Lindsay Jordan said...

Hi Mark,
I really like the idea of using Twitter in an Angelo & Cross one-minute paper kind of way - presumably you would use a different hashtag for each question to collate the responses.

You might be interested in following/checking out @academicdave (Dave Parry); he's written some great stuff on using Twitter with students:


MarkRussell said...

Hey Lindsay, Thanks for the comment -

I was originally thinking of a hashtag per week / or rather per CAT - which I imagined would be one per week. But I guess if you have different q's / CAT's each week then different hashtags would be needed. I suspect its a balance between keeping the posts in the right place and also not confusing the students with too many hashtags.

Love the link too. Thanks for adding it :-)


Dr. Matthew Mintz said...

Mark, Twitter as a tool to collect responses is a great idea. See my blog post on using Twitter as an audience response system that allows you to collect this information in real time during a Power Point presentation.