Are we teaching twits?

28 Nov

Teaching with twitter  What an excellent article and intelligent discussion in the Chronicle of Higher Education from the US (via Judy Gombita).

In the red corner is the admission that linear PowerPoint lectures are not engaging for students, who are already distracted by private conversations, laptops and mobile phones. So why not channel this energy positively and have the students post their questions and comments on Twitter?

In the blue corner is the case that higher education is not about cramming bite-sized chunks of digestible knowledge, but should be about understanding a process of thinking about problems. So students need to follow lengthy and subtle arguments without becoming distracted.

It's such as strong debate because both sides are right. To explain this, if I were teaching English or History I would insist on attention to the text with few distractions. But I'm teaching public relations – and multitasking and communications are key qualities.

Conceptually, two-way is better than one-way; engagement is better than just listening. Teaching is conversations, to borrow from Cluetrain, but for now I'd rather these conversations took place within the walls of the classroom. But I'm open to persuasion and may attempt my own experiment soon.

4 Responses to “Are we teaching twits?”

  1. Philip Young 28/11/2009 at 12:29 pm #

    You could try including live tweets in your powerpoint, using http://bit.ly/2RBcsw. I have played with it but haven’t yet trialled it in the classroom.

  2. Pietr 28/11/2009 at 1:47 pm #

    Good idea conceptually.
    However, how many of your students are on twitter? I gave a social media intro to Belgian students yesterday, but non of them is on Twitter (they were almost all on Facebook though!)
    Second thought against it: I would expect a PR student to be able to speak out for himself in class. That is an even better skill then knowing how to use twitter🙂
    Maybe the suggestion of Philip would be a nice go between solution however. Need to try thatone myself soon !

  3. Richard Bailey 28/11/2009 at 7:39 pm #

    Thanks both (it’s interesting to recall that my first exposure to the Twitter backchannel was at EuroBlog 2008, as you will both recall).
    This useful ebook on presenting with Twitter has more on this (including the SAP application mentioned above). http://www.speakingaboutpresenting.com/twitter/present-twitter-backchannel-ebook/

  4. Philip Young 29/11/2009 at 10:46 am #

    As ever you are ahead of me, Richard – Presenting with Twitter is useful, as is Olivia Mitchell’s site, Speaking About Presentations. Thanks.

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