Journal # 3 “The Growing Use of Twitter in Education”

Journal 3– “The Growing use of Twitter in Education” a vlog posted by K. Walsh on October 31,2010. The video blog entry is a companion piece to his blog post “more than a Third of Higher Education faculty are on Twitter” on EmergingEdTech URL:http://www.emergingedtech.com/2010/10/more-than-a-third-of-higher-education-f…

July 25th,2010

Objective

In this vlog, blogger K Walsh stated that “there is usually a time lag for adoption of new technologies in education.”He was surprised at the popularity of the article ‘100 ways to teach with Twitter” (Walsh, 2010) Based on the report by Faculty Focus, more than a third of educators in higher education used Twitter in some form in the year 2010.  Walsh made the following points:

As with all technology, Twitter has multiple proponents and opponents.

He expects that use of Twitter to  grow.

Twitter is not as popularly used as a learning tool.

Reasons faculty use Twitter are:

  • To share information with peers
  • As a real time news source

Walsh  found the comments  in the report very “valuable” and he  read  some of the comments in this vlog.

In the end ,he concluded  that “ there is some validity to all comments;  and there are benefits and challenges to using Twitter in the classroom but overall  he encourages people  to keep an open mind and  to remember that Twitter is only one of the tools available to educators”

Reflective:

Watching Walsh’s vlog made me so curious about the ‘special report” that  I even signed up as a member of Faculty Focus  just to download their report. Although the video log was short and sweet ;  I spent almost 1 day and a half following the links.  Like Walsh, I enjoyed the comments in the report and I can identify with the people that oppose using Twitter in education. Their general argument was that most do not want to take the time or does not have the time to learn “one more thing”. Another reason used was that only a few students actually use Twitter and are familiar with it.  Apparently, although lots of people sign-up, Twitter only has a 40% retention rate  for their service.(Wolfe, 2011 )

Faculty Focus phrased  the argument “a new trend emerging centered on the belief that many feel they have already too many places to post messages or check students for questions or comments” (Faculty Focus, special Report Sept 2010 p2)

Opponents also say that 140 character limit would not allow for in-depth discussions of material. (Duh!)  Opponents also say that it leads to atrocious writing/spelling.
( I can see why)

Overall,  I do agree with Mr. Walsh that one needs to keep an open mind and to consider these as mechanisms/tools and not education.(Walsh, 2010)

Interpretive:

I identify more with the reasoning used by the opponents of using Twitter in Education. Given my personality and the work I do, the many hats I wear; I have often put “technological stuff” to the back burner.Hence, I chose to take this particular course in the summer, I can only do this now because this is the time of the year when I have fewer things on my plate.  I do not want to waste time learning something and then having it  become obsolete just when I have about learned it. Updates and changes in technology  is something I get to  eventually when it starts to  impact my work and life.

Technology has changed the way people do things; how we communicate, more e-mails instead of phone calls or letters. Mobile phones allow people to reach us at any point in time. I feel I am constantly just trying to catch up. I feel a strong  need  to put a limit /boundary in how  technology  will invade my life. I think it would benefit all of us to slow down and have time  for reflection and deeper thinking.

Like any existing web2.0 technology, learning to use Twitter would demand precious  time and effort which I can use elsewhere that would lead to more productive and real time output. The fact that it is technology also implies that there will be constant system upgrade (continually learning)  Just like a comment from one of the  opponents of Twitter in that report( Faculty Focus 2010), I do not want to ” waste time learning something and then having it  become obsolete just when I have about learned it”.

My general impression of Twitter before taking the course was that it was a way for people to “chitchat” about mundane things or merely for gossip and entertainment titbits, which I think is not a unique opinion. hence the  140 character limit per text. Watching and reading these articles certainly broadened my horizons.

After these readings on Twitter, I know now that Twitter’s strength lies in its so called “real time” applications; it’s  a place for sharing information as it happens and for connecting with others in real time. It allows a person to connect with a mass audience and it’s an effective way to get news out in a flash as was the case in the Arab Spring incident last year (Globe and Mail, 2011).

Proponents of Twitter in education seem to suggest that once one gets the hang of it and understands how to use it, Tweeter has great potential as a viable educational tool.  They believe that success will depend on careful construction of parameters regarding usage.  In other words, teachers/instructors need to do the prep work.

From this perspective, Twitter would be  similar to any other tools teachers have used. “Raw Twitter promotes competitiveness but controlled Twitter offers opportunities to foster collaboration”( a comment in response to Rosie Miles, June 2012 )

Decisional:

My foray into social media has just started, I have enjoyed reading through the articles and blogs; I am grateful that I have at least this time to do this course. I will keep an open mind.Tools like Twitter will continue to be developed as we go further into the digital age. It might not be an issue of the tool (Twitter) but more an issue of who the users of the tools are, how willing they are to try,explore and learn new technology.

It was exciting to read about all the new technologies that are being developed for use in education. Children grow up to become adults, if the children and future students are in it, I think it’s the responsibility of a “good” teacher” not just to keep an open mind but to investigate and consider harnessing  these tools for better student engagement and learning.

One professor, Dr. Monica Rankin tried the Twitter experiment and acknowledges the fact that limiting the discussion to 140 characters per tweet was not ideal. On the other hand, she also mentioned that this helps students to be as concise with their point as possible.. The feedback she got  from her students were very positive and Dr Rankin herself was very pleased with the results. With a class of 90 students and only 50 minutes to teach, allowing the use of Twitter gave nearly everyone in her class a chance to participate and give their comments.(  Kesmit3, 2009)

Another  example, is a  senior lecturer at the University of Wolverhampton , UK; she  used Twitter’s idea of limiting 140 characters for student comments in a virtual learning environment (VLE) discussion forum. She had her students  comment on the character they role-play in their Victorian literature class. (Miles,  June 2012)

She used the VLE because  she felt this made it a “safer” on line space for her class”; safer in the sense that only class participants will be privy to the discussion. . However, she  used Twitters idea of character limit.( Miles, June 2012)

Let’s face it, Twitter was not intended to be used in education. It serves more as a social tool for people to connect. They find Tweeter use more applicable to Mobile users. The fact that this is being used in education simply strengthens the notion that collaboration or sharing of ideas does generate more ideas and hopefully leads to the betterment the whole society.It supports the whole idea of open learning. I am sure that as more people join in the discussion, as more educators try and post their experiences with Twitter, it will lead to innovations maybe in Tweeter itself or something similar that may eventually be geared to education. But perhaps it already is in the works, but I am just not fast enough to learn it yet. One thing for sure, there needs to be a paradigm shift, I believe the landscape has changed and will continue to change. Generally people resist change.I am the same way but I can’t help but feel grateful that I am in a course that is helping me with social media. It’s given me additional tools I can use in my profession. As I become more familiar with it, that shift will occur. After all , it was the turtle that won the race. Perseverance wins in the end.

References:

The Globe and Mail  August- September 2011 Twitter’s Influence on the Arab Spring URL  http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/twitters-influence-on-the-arab-spring/article638649/

Kesmit3( May,2009) The Twitter experiment-twitter in the classroom retrieved July 17,2012 from URL http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6WPVWDkF7U8&feature=watch_response

Miles, R (June, 2012) Teaching with Twitter; How the Social network can contribute to learning,  The Guardian  retrieved on July 17,2012 URL http://www.guardian.co.uk/higher-education-network/blog/2012/jun/11/teaching-with-twitter

Twitter in Higher Education 2010: Usage Habits and Trends of Today’s College faculty  ,  Magna Publications  retrieved July 17,2012 from URL

http://www.facultyfocus.com/free-reports/twitter-in-higher-education-2010-usage-habits-and-trends-of-todays-college-faculty/

Walsh, K (February, 2010) 100 ways to teach with Twitter  EmergingEdTech retreived July 16th ,2012 URL http://www.emergingedtech.com/2010/02/100-ways-to-teach-with-twitter/

Walsh, K ( October, 2010 )  The Growing Use of twitter by Today’s Educators  EmergingEdTech retrieved July 16,2012 URL   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GFP07a3ThAs

Wolfe,L (September,2011) Twitter Statistics by About.com Guide retrieved July 17,2012 URL  http://womeninbusiness.about.com/od/twittertips/a/twitter-statistics.htm

 

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Journal # 3 “The Growing Use of Twitter in Education”

  1. hi Arlene. nice job on your journal entry for the twitter in education. i especially liked your conclusion. the tools of education have always been evolving over time, especially since the Internet. now that evolution has become rapid. hard to keep up. by the time we learn one tool we are already old school. i too think twitter can be used in specific cases to enhance education, but also it needs time to find its place among educators. as such it will evolve into a more specific tool to fit those needs.

    • Thanks for your feedback, Paula.Sometimes,I wondered if it’s already all there, but everyone is just so pressed for time so we tend to focus only on our specific objectives.If one was to use a word to characterized our age, it would be “CHANGE” but then I wondered if people then felt like we do( at the turn of the century with invention of electricity, then the motorcar etc….)

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