Using Twitter to enhance student learning is full of pitfalls, excitement, and learning opportunities.
My first major school project where students used Twitter was with my Grade 12 Management class to organize and promote a Leadership and Technology Conference. The project was an experiential learning project to learn the art, science, and practice of management. Many of the ideas on how to use Twitter for the conference were learned in collaboration with fellow business teacher, @LadyFitzee.
To begin, the class had to create a conference Twitter account (@stltconference) and a conference hashtag (#pcstlt). Students were then encouraged (explicit criteria on instructional rubric) to tweet promotional and educational information prior to and at the conference. During the conference, we had a separate computer and screen display the Twitter conversation using Tweetdeck. In conclusion, the Conference "story" was created using Storify.
Like any class project, many things went awry, some things were great, and I would do many things differently the next time! Here are eight ideas and tips that might be considered to improve the learning experience.
If you want students to learn by working together on a collaborative class project, consider using a Wiki. A Wiki is a website where students can create, read, link, and edit each others webpages. A great video overview on Wikis is from Common Craft. If you want the business perspective on the importance of collaboration, then you should follow the work of Don Tapscott and read his book, Wikinomics.
As a teacher, you just have to set up an initial class Wiki project page and then let the students create their own team page and then individual student, or team member, pages. The students design their own pages and can read, edit, and comment on each others pages. As a teacher, you can also read, edit, and comment on student pages. However, you can also view changes to all pages and even "revert" to an earlier version if necessary.
Some of the advantages of using a Wiki are as follows:
To get a better idea on how I use Wikis in class, watch Wiki Work With Gill. Although I use the PBWorks Wiki application, any hosted Wiki system should be fine. Enjoy!
There is theory and there is practice. To truly learn, you must experience the theory in action. You must make decisions, take action, and learn from your mistakes. By having students participate in collaborative and authentic projects they experience, what Peter Senge calls Team Learning. During an experiential class project students learn from working with others, making mistakes, getting feedback, solving problems, and reflection.
McGill University professor of Management, Henry Mintzberg, questions how well one can learn the art, science, and practice of management simply by taking an MBA course. To be a good manager, one needs to experience the theory in action.
Make no mistake, it is hard work to organize an experiential project and the class will encounter many challenges, roadblocks, and even conflicts. Welcome to the real world. It is also exiting as the outcome of the project is never certain. Good tactics, strategy, vision, and the use of technology tools is helpful, but patience and persistence might be more important.
Although there are many days when I wonder why I persist with these complex experiential projects, I believe the benefits to the students make it worthwhile as follows:
I am a Business and Learning Strategies teacher at Port Credit Secondary School. Member of OSSTF Branch Executive and Communications and Education Services Committees. I also coach Basketball and Badminton and support the Chess and Grade 9 Boys Club.