Monday, 26 March 2012

#Twitter in the #classroom?

A month ago or so, I was asked to provide a chapter proposal for a book on some applications of Twitter in education. I was thinking on writing a draft for it, and it kind of made sense to write a post about it first. After all, what are blogs for? ;)

I have been using Twitter since 2008. According to When Did You Join Twitter?, I created my account on July 31st 2008. Which makes sense; if I'm not mistaken, this was during my first stay at Leicester, working with the BDRA team and discovering Web 2.0 and PLEs.

I started using Twitter with my students in October 2008, as part of the PELICANS project, a collaboration with BDRA, for which I was running the pilot in Barcelona. This became one of the case studies for my PhD dissertation.

What we did in the context of that project (actually, its first iteration), was show Twitter to the group and propose to try it for communication regarding the course. Students adopted it pretty fast, and in a couple of weeks it became the main channel for communications, not only academic, but also for personal messages. We then added more tools and students gradually built their PLEs.

In 2009, I started a project called Hort Digital (loosely translated as Digital Orchard), inspired by BDRA's Media Zoo but aimed at secondary school teachers. The project was supported by Citilab, where the sessions took place; the project is now in its third year, and we have worked with approximately 120 teachers, of both primary and secondary school level. Several of these teachers had their first experience with Twitter in the context of that project, and have adopted it as one of their main sources of information. One of them, in particular, wrote a very interesting blog post that you can read here (in Catalan).

One of the tools I discovered when I started working with Web 2.0 tools was I got hooked, as it combines music -something I love- with microblogging. It was very useful to help introduce my students to the concept of microblogging, and the proper use of @ and #; it also features badges, so it was very easy to design activities and contests around them. I'm using the past tense here not because the tools has disappeared, but because for a while now it hasn't been working as smoothly as before. The badges are not being awarded, which of course annoys those people that make an effort to earn them. I know they had some kind of problem with streaming songs, copyright and availability of some tracks, but it doesn't look like this is going to be solved anytime soon. I have tried to contact them both through email and on Twitter, but to no avail; in the past, they usually answered pretty quickly. It gives the impression that, sadly, they are going to close the site.

Last year, I was asked to participate in the Madhouse of Ideas project, which in turn was based on the Bazar de los Locos project. Bazar de los Locos is an initiative by @eraser and @FrancescLlorens, and has now been edited as a book. I also got invited to participate there, but as I have problems finding inspiration and actually writing in Spanish, I passed. When @lindacq led the English version, I did submit a post, which you can read here.

The post was based on an idea I had (and have also seen developed a couple of times by other bloggers), about how Twitter changes the way we communicate and how some people deal with these changes. I was thinking on the 5 stages of grief model, and how it is usually related to major changes in our lives.

Since last year, I have been working on an activity based around Twitter, for a module I teach at a Business Management Masters; the students choose some companies from the Forbes 2000 list, and try to interact with them through Twitter. The idea is to see how some of the most successful companies in the world have adopted (or not) this new channel to get in touch with their customers. Although the contacts have not always been successful, I think the activity has, in the sense that the students (most of them, anyway) try the application and actually see the point in using it.

So, what are your experiences with Twitter in the classroom? Any tips, ideas, suggestions?

No comments:

Post a Comment