Online Teaching: Twitter Trials Pt. 1

This past week I was inspired like many of you by the Twitter experiment performed at UT Dallas. As an online teacher, I was excited about the various possibilities in which I could get my learners to carry discussions outside of the forum as I presented the materials. I enjoy small classes for online teaching. However, I think Twitter definitely provides online teachers with a way to have larger classes interact with the material being presented. Therefore, I decided to perform my own Twitter experiment by offering a free Twitter Discussions series online for students.

Mindmap of Twitter

Teaching Trials

Those of you who teach online know this is a whole different ball game! Specifically, I had planned beyond most of my students’ experiences not realizing that most of my students were newby Twitterers. I decided to switch gears and share my desktop with my students so I could demonstrate how to sign-up for an account, make updates, and create a profile. Sharing a desktop is very useful technology; however, many online teachers know that taking up too much bandwidth will cause you problems. For some of the lesson, my poor students could not hear me explain the technicalities of Twitter.

Sound Advice

To avoid these problems for future classes, my good friend taught me how to make a tutorial video using CamStudio. Although there are several great sources of information for Twitter users, I catered my video to English Language Learners. If I have technical difficulties with my sound then I can simply play the video recording of the lesson. The following are more suggestions and resources to ensure your Twitter teaching experience runs smoothly:

  • Realize your students will need adjustment time! This advice comes via Cole W. Camplese’s experiment using Twitter in his graduate classes.
  • Register the class with Group Tweet to make conversation easier & trackable!
  • Use hashtags to organize student Tweets. This advice comes via UT Dallas professor, Monica Rankin, of the famous Twitter experiment video.
  • Discuss with your students the merits of using Twitter. This advice comes via Marquette University professors who teach their students to use Twitter to report events, connect with field experts, market advertising campaigns, and use as a professional networking tool.
  • Realize chaos may occur and be okay with this!

Further sources you may find helpful are:

Have fun tweeting with your students! Next TechTuesday I will share with you my Twitter lesson plan and more helpful advice!

Getting the Most out of Twitter

Do you have a tip for teachers to get computers in the classroom? Please, contact me to have that idea featured on a future Tech Tuesday post!

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