Today, Charlene Li, author of the influential social media strategy book Groundswell, tweeted that she was looking for practical examples of social media being used in the classroom.
In my role with Harris Social Media, I advise schools and educators on social media strategies, much of which I learned through practical implementation of the principles outlined in Charlene’s book.
But one idea I have been sitting on for a while, simply for lack of resources to implement is a new way to use Twitter in the classroom. I emailed Charlene with the idea, but want to share it with a wider audience.
In my model, there are four key elements:
- Every student has a mobile device that can text via Twitter (or Yammer or similar application).
- Students are encouraged to use the devices to message each other with tweets.
- Rather than keep these tweets private, the micromessages are projected on a screen in the front of the classroom (visible to everyone) while the teacher is active in his or her presentation of material.
- The teacher has a screen available so he or she can follow the stream in real-time.
This model would provide several advantages to the teacher and students.
- It can be used on the fly or in later analysis to measure student engagement in the material
- The teacher can use it as a real-time method to gauge his or her efficacy in keeping students’ attention
- It allows students who are less confident or outspoken to ask questions and interact on a level playing field
- The stream can be searched for topics and themes that may not have been obvious in real-time
- It empowers students to self-police themselves for disruptive behavior
- It could prompt serendipitous conversations and discoveries that would not otherwise emerge in a traditional setting
- It offers an objective measure of teaching efficacy that does not rely directly on test scores
- It represents a stream of collective consciousness (what I have called panconsciousness) that may raise each individual’s awareness of the topic
When I saw Charlene’s tweet it prompted me to go ahead and publish a draft this blog post that I’d been sitting on awhile.
I’ll be surprised if others haven’t thought of this way to use microblogging in the classroom, and may even be implementing it, but I have not heard of such cases. I’ll certainly be excited to learn if Charlene’s research unveils any instances. In any case, if you have thoughts about whether this model would be worth field-testing, please share them. I am sure science education researchers would be interested in studying its pedagogic impact.