I tweet.

Do you?

Not your cup of tea?

Doesn’t float your boat?

Have you asked yourself WHY you feel that way?

Perhaps you are too busy, too old, too clever, too academic.

Or perhaps, dare I write the words, you are simply uninformed.

Uninitiated.

Let’s fix that and start the induction process.

It begins with peer review. That is correct. Twitter is open for the business of research and rigorous analysis. I would say that it warrants (at least) a second look…

This post discusses the work of four researchers from the University of Leicester, regarding the application of Twitter with two divergent groups of students : undergraduate and postgraduate . Several factors emerged that concluded with the consensus that micro-blogging sites such as Twitter are worthy of inclusion in a learning environment.

Of course, there is more. But I wanted you to stick with me till the end so I gave away the ending : Twitter has its place in a place of learning.

Firstly, it should be noted that the research was conducted at the university level but the findings are applicable to senior high school in particular. Indeed, the undergraduate students were of a similar age to year eleven and twelve students, with an average age of 18-19 years. Also, the below clip demonstrates some uses of Twitter at the high school level.  Here are the research findings on how Twitter was employed (as detailed on p.97, 2011)

  • Administrative issues such as coordinating field trips,  lecture schedules.
  • Between individuals to arrange meetings and projects.
  • Staff and students employed it to communicate subject-specific discussions
  • students formed “peer-to-peer support for academic and/or social aspects of University life”. (p.97, 2011).

The establishment of these peer-to-peer groups demonstrated the highest usage around assignment and exam periods suggesting a virtual tutorial group. (p. 93, 2011). The possibilities for emergent learning here are strong as is the very basic issue of reducing pre-exam stress particularly for socially isolated students. (p.93, 2011).

The ability to contact staff out of hours raises  questions, such as the  intrusion into teachers’ personal lives and student expectations about appropriate response time. This is a valid question that I believe warrants further analysis. As teachers, the line between the personal and the professional is one of utmost importance and is getting more difficult to manage with the addition of Web 2.0 possibilities. However, we must not shy away from the difficult, and must ensure that both teachers and students are using these technologies ethically, professionally and successfully.

The practical applications for Twitter are as various as your mind will explore. For further information, including examples of how it has been used across schools, click on the below links.

1. 5 Real Examples of Using Twitter for Education

2. Over 100 Ways to Teach with Twitter

3. Best Practices in a Twitter-Enhanced High School

As I continue to research this journal and ICT in general, the conclusion that emerges repeatedly is that as teachers, we must be reflective practitioners and continue to assess our practices, be informed about new technologies and use pedagogical application in order to engage our students in a manner that also demonstrates morally appropriate usage of Web 2.0.

Try it, or more accurately, tweet it. You and your students might just learn something!

Resources

Badge, J., Johnson, S., Moseley, A. &  Cann, A.Observing Emerging Student Networks on a Microblogging Service (2011). MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching Vol. 7, No. 1, March 2011.

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