Education of Tomorrow

February 16, 2011

Is Twitter Becoming the New Learning Tool?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Education Group @ 10:21 am


The Grey’s Anatomy episode was not the first look into Twitter as a learning tool. Teachers have been looking into it as a way to connect with their students in a better and more affective way using social networking. A woman by the name of Melanie McBride is a teacher who decided to use incorporate Twitter into education. She only gets 2 hours to teach her course, which is not enough time for everything she wants to teach her students. Some students she found were shy to ask questions in class as well if they were uncertain about something. A child in her class liked the idea that twitter has synced up with other programs such as facebook, skype, blogs, etc. (McBride) This is a link to her blog where she has posted her information on using twitter as a learning guide as well as a students perspective on how useful it was for education purposes http://melaniemcbride.net/2008/02/10/classroom20-twitter-delicious-and-participatory-learning/

At the University of Texas at Dallas a history professor by the name of Monica Rankin did an experiment with Twitter using her class of 90 students. She set up a Twitter account for the class, which allowed students to post comments, questions and answers on in 140 characters. She wanted to see if more students would participate in class discussions and being involved in her class.  Her is a link to a video that Monica posted explaining the results of her experiment http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/how_one_teacher_uses_twitter_in_the_classroom.php

By using Twitter it allowed her to create a more student-centered environment. It allowed the shy students in class to have a voice through a tweet sent on the computer or cell phone. This has to do with the issue of identity. People feel more comfortable creating an identity through social networks because they can be anyone they want and say anything they feel. They become a whole new more comfortable person. Monica found that instead of the regular 3 people who will generally participate in a discussion in class that the number has bumped up to about 40 through the use of twitter. Students are also able to refer back to twitter conversation for tests and exams since answers to certain questions may have been answered on it. (Kirkpatrick)

Monica Rankin’s Twitter Experiment even took her to another state during her experiment. She was not able to teach her lecture one week due to a personal reason but connected to her students lecture lead by the T.A on the day of her lecture. Monica logged in online to her twitter account and answered questions and commented on students’ tweets. The students found it beneficial and helpful that it allowed them to connect with their teacher when she was not able to be there. Just like how she was not able to attend, a student in the same predicament would still be able to participate in the class discussion. Thanks to twitter it has allowed for teaching and learning to go beyond the classroom. (Kirkpatrick)

By: Stephanie H

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1 Comment »

  1. Thanks for the opening line especially. As a geek who went into teaching (rather than a teacher who “discovered” technology), I often note the remarkable lack of inquiry into the history of the thinkers, ideas or practices of digital culture from those who wish to “teach” digital tools to others. Tools they themselves have only just discovered. It’s like Rebecca Blood’s law of weblogging (i.e., Rebecca Blood, one of the first bloggers on the internet): “the day you discover blogging and/or start your own is the day blogs hit the mainstream.” As Blood sees it (correctly) there is this perpetual “rediscovery” that comes from a mainly consumer-oriented user who only engages ideas once they have become acceptable or established. It’s not so much that they didn’t have access but that they *presume* the ideas were non existent before their arrival on the scene. that’s the part I have a problem with.

    One really great assignment I recommend for any teacher interested in tech integration is to source the origin and exact date of any given term or practice. To see how far back you can go. If only to give credit where credit is truly due. Because I can think of about a 100 figures from the internet whose work and ideas should be as familiar to ed tech people as the brand names of tools.

    Comment by Melanie McBride — February 16, 2011 @ 10:44 am | Reply


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