Thursday, 14 May 2009

Twitter - a tool for education?

A couple of weeks back I posted a fairly edgy item to a discussion forum entitled ‘twitter – tool or toy?’ http://blendedlearningconference.ning.com/forum/topics/twitter-tool-or-toy

My motivation was to see how it was being used and gain some insights into what we can really do in a teaching, learning and assessment context with 140 characters.

Twitter is limited to 140 character input and also was founded on the simple premise of the staus update found in Facebook etc. i.e. what are you doing now.

The forum entry took a couple of quick responses (notably from Twitter enthusiasts that were gentle enough not to berate my ignorance but to say, ‘have a go’. I wanted to make a reasoned judgement on its usefulness and so ‘have a go I did’ Or rather am!

I was fortunate enough to get a bit of a guided tour and given advice as to what it might / might not do. Twitter, I was told, does not do everything and rather than think of it a tool to engage in meaningful dialogue, why not use it as a seed to establish the dialogue and then take it elsewhere?

Well, I have to say that (at the moment) I’m sold. I like the connections I am forming and I like the so-called micro-blogging. I have used it to engage in back channel conversations at conferences and also at JISC meetings. I tweeted whilst at the recent Curriculum Delivery Programme meeting relating to Change and enjoyed reading the tweets coming out of sister Curriculum Design Programme meeting relating to Change.

Sure, I tell my followers what I’m up to – which includes my gym habits but I also use it for throwing out some thoughts relating to teaching, learning and assessment.

I really think Twitter-type tools have a place in education. 140 characters is much less daunting to a student than a blank blog page when responding to the questions such as ‘what did you get from today’s lecture?’

I’m going to take twitter to our ESCAPE teams and see what they make of it.

Oh, want to follow me and my gym exploits? I’m MarkRussell

1 comment:

Anne Marie said...

Hello Mark

Twitter is great for meeting people and sharing ideas. So what would be it's use in an undergarduate course? Getting to know colleagues within the course, sharing ideas with them?

Neil Selwyn's work about how students used Facebook found very little eduational content.
http://www.lse.ac.uk/collections/informationSystems/newsAndEvents/2008events/selwyn.htm

But perhaps students could use twitter to find people outside their course interested in the same things that they are? Perhaps students could start using Twitter the same way that I do?

But I can't see that twitter has a useful role in communicating with students in a course.

I stand ready to be corrected however :)