You can’t turn on the TV or read the news without hearing about more cuts to education or teacher layoffs. These continuing blows exacerbate the already overcrowded classrooms and further challenge teachers’ ability to reach students intimidated by the sheer class size and lack of personal interaction. Enter stage right, Twitter to the rescue.
Twitter and other microblogging technologies are being used by teachers in K-12 and universities for many reasons yet, a top one is to increase student participation in classroom discussion. In the New York Times article on “Speaking up in the Class, Silently, Using Social Media”, Trip Gabriel reports, “With Twitter and other microblogging platforms, teachers from elementary schools to universities are setting up what is known as a “backchannel” in their classes. The real-time digital streams allow students to comment, pose questions (answered either by one another or the teacher) and shed inhibitions about voicing opinions. Perhaps most importantly, if they are texting on-task, they are less likely to be texting about something else.”
By using Twitter in the classroom, teachers are re-engaging students, enriching the classroom discussion, igniting student debate, and increasing comprehension. In the article, “Tweeting Students Earn Higher Grades Than Others in Classroom Experiment“, Paige Chapman of The Chronicle of Higher Education highlights a study on “The Effect of Twitter on College Student Engagement and Grades“. The results of this study shows students using Twitter earned grade point averages a half point higher than those not using Twitter.
Is it all upside? The jury is out. The most critical issue voiced is the lack of context or analysis in a 140 character tweet. Lack of context, worry about bullying, and general abuse of the tweeting are all concerns. When balanced with the upside it is worthwhile? Let us know your position and experience. Post your thoughts here or to the Curriki Facebook page.
If you’re interested in exploring Twitter in the classroom or are new to Twitter, check out the great resources below to get you started and provide interesting ways to use Twitter and social media in your classroom.
- Using Twitter In and Out of the Classroom
- 100 Ways to Teach with Twitter
- Thirty-one Interesting Ways to Use Twitter in the Classroom
- 100 Serious Twitter Tips for Academics