Bill MacKenty

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is twitter educational?

Posted in Educational Tech Support Twitter on 24 - April 2009 at 09:21 PM (15 years ago). 332 views.

Got a comment question I wanted to respond to here:

Just curious, what are your thoughts about incorporating Twitter into the curriculum.

Don’t use a piece of technology just because you can. Edward Tufte spoke about this very eloquently. Just because we have (insert new technology here) doesn’t mean we should try to cram it into our curriculum.  This is why we need to be very careful about powerpoint - think about what you need to teach, and THEN think about the best way to teach your material.

However, part of my passion in life is looking at new technologies, and wondering about them . Ever since I figured out what twitter was, I’ve been rolling this question around in my mind.  I don’t have an answer, but I have some initial ideas.

How would you approach that?

I’ve been reading about the backchannel lately, and I really like the idea - for kids over 18.  I think twitter (and google chat) are like passing notes in class - that kids (under age 18) can’t really focus on a teacher AND a side conversation. I think if I asked a group of 16 year old kids to create a back channel, they wouldn’t be able to stay focused. I think if we twittered during class, we would need to review the twits before class ended.

How would you use it to help kids learn? Especially elementary school kids.

Well, I would think of twitter as a reflective device.  So as I’m teaching (or reading) something, I would ask them to take notes via twitter. With about 15 minutes left of class, I would review the twits, and have a discussion. Or, I might review the twits for the next class (what great feedback for a teacher).

I’m afraid that this Twitter thing is just going to take up a lot of the kids time and stuff instead of having some real evidence that it’ll help kids learn.

I share your fear.  The thing is, twitter doesn’t try to be anything BUT a 140 character update thingy. I see twitter mainly as a tool to reflect on a back channel conversation. But is back-channel reflective communication a useful thing for young kids? I’m not so sure.

I mean Twitter is a great idea, but I’m just not sure of it’s educational value.

I agree. I think the REAL value of twitter comes in from teachers learning / sharing with each other. I’ve already picked up some very useful information from twitter, and I’d like to add more people to follow (this is why I’m looking for a way to categorize / read) twits.

Great question