Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Connecting with Students via Twitter

If you have been following my blog for a while you know that I'm a big fan of Twitter. The fact that you have to make your point in 140 characters forces a person to get to the point quickly. It cuts out the "elaboration". 

I think students want us, as teachers, to get to the point too. As a result, I see the use of twitter in teaching online to be a no brainier. The question is how to do it without having to worry about some of the possible problems that teachers talk about when they shy away from social media student use with students.

First of all I have a twitter widget embedded in my D2L courses that allows for all my tweets and retweets to be displayed. That way if any of my students do not have smartphones or do not use twitter, they can still see all things that I post that are relevant to them. It levels the field for all so there is no disadvantage for those non-twitter users. Since the widget only displays my tweets and retweets, I control what is displayed to the students inside D2L. 

Second, I created a twitter account for use with my students only. I only use my twitter account for teacher pd but if something inadvertently were to appear in my regular twitter feed, it will not be seen by students. And besides, I am pretty certain most students are not interested in the teacher pd topics I tweet and retweet. 

I am pleased to report that students are starting to follow my account and are starting to message me, retweet and favourite tweets that contain homework, etc... They have taken the opportunity to make jokes of what I have tweeted and have sent me reminders to post classroom recordings, clarify homework posted, etc...  There is activity and I am pleased it's starting to grow.

What I am really hoping happens with the twitter account is this: I am posting videos on topics/outcomes that we will be covering in class before the class actually happens. I am hoping that students come to class more informed by watching these videos (still working on interactive flipped lessons... and ironing out the kinks). I am also hoping that when students are working on questions that they are struggling with, they simply take a snapshot with their device and tweet me their question. Then, with Notability, I can add to the image with notes/instructions so that we bypass the login of D2L, the need for scanners, Adobe Acrobat, etc... and tweet back to them... while other students can see it too. Basically I want to simplify the process of getting questions to me and answers to them.

It's still early in the game here but... so far... so good! I'll blog more later.

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