Twitter in the Classroom

UnknownAs an educator and parent I ask myself ” Is there room for Twitter in the classroom”? Not long ago I would have said “No way” and now I say a definite “Yes”!

I have only just been introduced several months ago to Twitter through a university unit that I was undertaking as part of my studies in Education. Previous to that I questioned my husband’s need to have a Twitter account as I thought it was some “social gathering point where everybody told everybody else  everything they were doing. Some would say this comment is true but using social media, in this case Twitter, I now know it is so much more than that.

For me the changing point in my belief was a quote I read to compare Twitter to other social media, in this case Facebook, which stood out the most to me. It read:

Facebook are the friends you have and Twitter are the friends you want to have“.

Now this isn’t a beat up of Facebook or other social media as that would be a post on its own. This is a posting on the usage of Twitter in the classroom.

So, firstly I need to step back and question what is the purpose I continue to use Twitter and what is it I gain from using Twitter? For me, a Twitter rookie, I see Twitter as a place to meet other interesting, knowledgeable people who share my own interests.That is education and all that is school and learning based.

Through Twitter I have gained connections with people across the world who want to share their experiences in education and the classroom. I have “met” people who are technologically “gifted” as they seem to know everything about  the recent technology devices in the classrooms. These people are the ones who spin my head because only yesterday they would send a “Tweet’ about one “tech-ie” device only to have it superseded the day after…and they have already used it and posted something reflective about it on Twitter!

But Twitter also allows me the space to share my thoughts, as I would do now after posting this blog and “tweeting” it for others who may be interested in reading it.

So now I take it to the classroom. Some would say there is no room for Twitter especially in the younger grades but I would respond to that “Open your minds to creative learning”. Imagine Tweeting your days events as opposed to “Daily News” where one Kinder child stands in front of the class to tell 30 others that “Yesterday I went to the park to play with my friends”. Twitter allows for 140 characters per comment, right? Well, the “park comment” has only used about 50 characters…wow, so much more to tell in one Tweet! This news time would no longer be limited to the 30 students sitting in front of them at that moment but the whole grade could read about the visit to the park, the school community could be “following” the student as would the whole world, if they were interested in it! This is one example of using it in Kinder. We could post comments to each other and have “respond” time under the guidance of a support teacher or parent, as we do with reading in the classroom.

As for the older grades, their communities of practice could include scientists such Professor Bryan Cox, or major political parties, or other school communities locally, nationally and globally. The list is endless to the “followers” and those that follow.

I also believe that it is a wonderful way to build school community spirit. To be in tuned to the school’s happenings and be able to share across grades, achievements, excursion, events, learning, and so on…how could you not want something like Twitter in your room??

I guess the important foundation is to make sure children and parents are very clear on the digital footprint that is left behind after every Tweet. But if we can teach children this at an early age then we may not have the frustrating, hurtful and revengeful commentary that we see on social media.

I believe there is a place for Twitter in every age but like everything in any classroom we must make sure our reasons for the use are valid; that the knowledge of the media is extensive and that we are providing the students with strong understandings of its strengths and weaknesses.

Some would say Twitter is scary; or can be damaging; or can be a problem…I would say that so are scissors in a classroom but we don’t stop the students from using them!

See you all on Twitter @wccom

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