Teachers on Twitter

The overwhelming benefit to using Twitter is that I can engage with teachers I haven’t met in real life, often from other states or countries.

Teachers on Twitter share their work, their experiences, their knowledge, their ideas, their journeys and their successes and failures and I try to learn with them too.

Teachers also share their passion for learning, teaching and discovering new things, and this motivates me to be a better teacher myself. Twitter has led to me meeting many interesting and helpful people, some face-to-face!

Finally, teachers (and indeed, other people) I follow on Twitter have different perspectives, opinions and ideas to my own, which forces me to think deeply about what I know and believe and from this, I learn. Because we tend to hold friendship with those who have the same world views and beliefs as us, it is important to also engage with those who don’t, and Twitter enables me to do this.

Pre-service teachers on Twitter

I really liked this post about Using Social Media at University by Mr Church, a pre-service primary teacher in the UK. Dave talks about the advantages and disadvantages of using both Facebook and Twitter for pre-service teacher education.

In our course we encourage our students to tweet, using the hashtag #educ1706. We did some research before choosing to use Twitter. I particularly enjoyed the research of Rey Junco and his colleagues. Their research focused on the use of Twitter and Facebook to increase student achievement and engagement. There is a list of recommended readings at the end of this post, and a great podcast here.

We chose to use Twitter because:

  • students can follow each other without being “friends”;
  • students can participate in discussions without following each other or being followed;
  • students can hold discussions during lectures;
  • students can hold discussions outside of lectures, in their own time, anytime;
  • interaction is brief and easy;
  • it is a passive platform, where students engage only when they want to (unlike Facebook, where busy Pages can fill a News Feed with unwanted posts, just as Mr Church suggests in his post);
  • students can share their learning with their peers;
  • students can share their learning with teachers, scientists and others;
  • students can share their ideas, links, images, videos, etc;
  • teachers can post brief announcements and updates; and
  • engagement between teachers and students is public and transparent.

Many of our students are interested in new ways to engage, to communicate, in new ideas, and new learning. They realise that the trick to Twitter is to be active: to engage, converse and share with others (kind of like blogging, really!).

Unfortunately there are always a few students who don’t want to join Twitter. Some proudly state “Twitter isn’t for me,” having never tried it. “Why don’t you use Facebook? I’d totally pay attention to Facebook.” To me this is a bit like saying “Interactive whiteboards aren’t for me. Why don’t you use the blackboard? I’d totally pay attention to the blackboard.” Or worse, “New ideas aren’t for me. Why don’t you only tell me things I already know? I’d totally study if you only told me things I already know.” I’d like to think all our future teachers are willing to try new formats for communicating, and interact with people outside of their own schools and lives.

Are you on Twitter?

What do you enjoy or appreciate about using Twitter, as a teacher or pre-service teacher?

If you have tried but it wasn’t for you, why not?

Readings

Casey, G., & Evans, T. (2011). Designing for Learning: Online Social Networks as a Classroom Environment. International Review Of Research In Open & Distance Learning, 12(7), 1-26.

Chen, B., & Bryer, T. (2012). Investigating Instructional Strategies for Using Social Media in Formal and Informal LearningInternational Review Of Research In Open & Distance Learning, 13(1), 87-104.

Hew, K. F. (2011). Students’ and teachers’ use of Facebook. Computers in Human Behaviour, 27, 662-676.

Johnson, K. A. (2011).  The effect of Twitter posts on students’ perceptions of instructor credibility. Learning, Media and Technology, 36(1), 21-38.

Junco, R., Elavsky, C. M., Heiberger, G. (2012). Putting Twitter to the test: assessing outcomes for student collaboration, engagement, and successBritish Journal of Educational Technology.

Junco, R. (2012). Too much face and not enough books: The relationship between multiple indices of Facebook use and academic performanceComputers in Human Behavior, 28(1), 187-198.

Junco, R. (2012). The relationship between frequency of Facebook use, participation in Facebook activities, and student engagement. Computers & Education, 58(1), 162-171.

Junco, R., Heiberger, G., & Loken, E. (2011). The effect of Twitter on college student engagement and gradesJournal of Computer Assisted Learning, 27(2), 119-132.

Lowe, B. & Laffey, D. (2011). Is Twitter for the birds? : Using Twitter to enhance learning in a marketing course. Journal of Marketing Education, 33 (2), 183-192.

McCarthy, J. (2010). Blended learning environments: Using social networking sites to enhance the first year experience. Australasian Journal of Education Technology, 26(6), 729-740.

Silius, K. K., Kailanto, M. M., & Tervakari, A. M. (2011). Evaluating the Quality of Social Media in an Educational Context. International Journal Of Emerging Technologies In Learning, 6(3), 21-27.

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