Twittering in the Classroom

Twittering with teenagers

I had an idea. The idea was that everyone, well almost everyone uses social media. This had to be a way to enrich my lessons. I researched the kids on setting up a Facebook fan page. They looked at me like I was nuts.

Use twitter for that Sir!

It was as clear as could be. Twitter is their social media of choice for this. Who am I to tell them which method they would use?

The red tape in East Lothian was worryingly simple.

Go for it. Use obvious safeguards and don’t DM kids

Getting the class to follow me was easy. Getting them to tweet back, not so easy.
I was not going to be upset at this. I did discover that theyread my tweets. They even told me to tweet more often so my tweets didn’t get lost in their timeline. They were keen to also get links to Maths news etc so they can read the stories. They only read the stories on their smart phones, though, so setting up complex tasks for them to do on a PC is not using their preferences as much.

It would transpire that most pupils, being teenagers, don’t want their mates to see tweets TO a Maths department. The kids are happy enough to read them, only their own timeline will show they are reading a Maths department’s twitter feed. If a kid comments, or mentions, on the department’s feed, then their own followers will then see the conversation.

So, twittering with teenagers works, so long as we don’t

dis their street cred

and, even worse, we don’t expect them to respond publicly to us.

It is a great tool for reminding them of facts, offering information regarding revision and supporting them in expending their educational experience. They are responsible for checking and acting on the feeds and links. This is just one method to help them gain success and I accept some learners will find twitter more helpful than others.

Indeed, getting them to condense their learning into 140 characters, what a tool!

1)It is free, 2)it is available and, even more, 3)it is current. 1 and 2 excite teachers and 3 grabs the attention of the kids.

Using twitter, we are all winners!

10 thoughts on “Twittering in the Classroom

  1. Gareth Surgey

    Hi Eddie

    This sounds great and is the reason I signed up to Twitter last week. As a (very) recent convert to twitter (and other social media) I stumbled on to your piece whilst using said to researching my case (to my SMT) for more access to social media for learning. I believe my school has a forward thinking SMT – they’ve permitted me (or should I say the pupils in my care) to produce the following and out with the control of our LA!! and
    But I’m not convince the LA will be so forward thinking.
    How did you do it?? I’d really like to chat to get the inside track, so to speak. Contact details are:

  2. eddiewhite Post author

    Hi Gareth, glad I get to sound so clever in what is a “stating the obvious” thing so most of us.

    I was genuinely perplexed by how easy it was for the region to ok this. In fact, so was my own SMT. They had not objections but thought someone must object as education is full of these stabling blocks.

    It appears East Lothian has a very healthy and common sense approach to ICT and the two names I mention in the tweet are the guys behind this.

    The issues with getting around your own region’s headache could be complicated. It could involve massive debate and, let’s face it, so many teachers are nervous of this new stuff – probably with the same hoo haa as when girls wanted to wear trousers (caveat, I am not so old to remember this from the teacher view point but do remember the ‘how stupid are they’ from the pupil view pint)

    I would suggest a few obvious things:

    Kids swear on their own twitter. They are irreverent and, well, teenagerish. That is not a concern as a teacher as we are posting and kids will, if they do post, follow classroom etiquette. I was surprised how easily they did this.

    For them to follow their LI and SC in their twitter feed on the bus home, they do not require to tweet to you. I test their readership and find they follow it eagerly.

    In fact, if you are this interested, you probably have a smart phone and so, with a separate twitte account on your phone, you probably only need the blessing for a trial of this, and not any input from them at all. I rarely use the twitter which is on my desktop at school.

    The guys I copied on twitter are the brains behind the policy. I am just a twittering teacher.

  3. Graeme Smith

    Our college opened up to Web 2.0 technologies around two years ago.

    I use twitter as one of my primary search sources when looking for tutorials or generating class debate. In a class we use twitterfall with a #tag to discuss links and content.

    We use Facebook groups for ALL classes and students contribute willingly. I have found the use of Social Media engages more with the younger learner of 2011. They often post through the night well outwith normal class hours which is something to be said for it in its own right.

    I have found that using social media pulls down many of the barriers between teaching staff and students (well, it certainly has in my department).

    No permission was sought but there are a few raised eyebrows from management. They say it’s great we do this but don’t ‘get’ or ‘understand’ it themselves.

  4. eddiewhite Post author

    @MrEWhite for me, I should have said!

    Graeme, good int well made.

    My concern was to make it all above board to help those more nervous than us. If the bosses are happy, I will have more people to join me.



  5. @mrphorner

    I think using social networking in learning is very powerful. In fact not to do it would be missing a trick. Personally I went down the route of using Edmodo. Largely because I didn’t want to have to go through the steps of making a case for using twitter or facebook and having to argue that the benefits outweigh the potential risks/pitfalls.

    The beauty of edmodo is that you can set it up for your whole school (so it’s easy for other teachers to get on board once they see how effective it is in engaging learners). You can attach things like documents, podcasts etc to the “tweets” (not at all the correct term, but basically the same idea) and while it has a very facebook/twitter ‘feel’ to it, it’s specifically designed for school use, so students are able to keep their personal social networking life and their school social networking life separate.

    I think the last point was what quelled any concerns re: safeguarding etc.

  6. eddiewhite Post author

    Thanks for the comments and sorry for the delay in replying.

    It all sounds great, we are all moving forward with our own frameworks based on local problems and strengths.

    For me, twitter allows for immediacy and kids are always logged in on their phones. I enjoy the fact neighbouring schools can simply dip in and enjoy the debates etc.

    Still, the key thing is we are all using the technology to enhance our learning and teaching and not just playing with technology for the sake of it

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