When to say no to Twitter, in 140 chars or less

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Photo Credit: East Georgia State College via Compfight cc

So despite being a tech-friendly individual, I decided to consider the position of why, as a teacher, I would NOT use Twitter in my classroom. For another opposing view, head over to Amira’s blog. For a pro-Twitter point of view, you can read Fadzai’s blog.

First off, I will start by saying that to emphasize my 6 points, I have made them all 140 characters or less. I figure that if I cannot make a strong enough argument with this restriction, perhaps that will also support my position:

  1. Twitter reinforces bad grammar and spelling habits. They R vital 2 learn, & if Ss R trying to be brief, these skills go out the window.
  2. Face to face time is essential for Ss to learn communication, eye contact/body lang & conflict res. Offline skills impact online skills.
  3. Distractibility & multitasking are on the rise. Many Ss are unable to single task. Teaching singular focus is critical to productivity.
  4. Twitter can be hard to follow. Ss with different learning styles may find it frustrating or difficult.
  5. Some Ss may find Twitter is a popularity contest; focus on likes, retweets and replies. Can create divides, exclusion, or bullying of Ss.
  6. My 14 yo says Twitter (like Facebook) is old news. She doesn’t tweet. She uses Instagram, Snapchat, etc. So why force this tech on Ss?

So there you have it. While I am pro-technology, I am really thinking deeply about what makes a technology both relevant and purposeful. Surely the tech world is changing daily and there are bigger and brighter apps than Twitter on the horizon. If students are not using Twitter themselves anymore, why use it in the classroom?

The tech we introduce in the classroom cannot simply be an app we like, or “the flavour of the month”. This cannot be reason enough to use it. As a teacher, I wonder if there are other apps, or (gasp!) manipulatives, experiments and games that are better suited and engaging for teaching students. So while I started out this assignment as a Twitter supporter playing devil’s advocate, I actually have convinced myself that there are many other resources I prefer over Twitter. As much as I like it personally and professionally, my students’ learning needs must be at the centre of my teaching.

I look forward to reading my classmates’ responses to this blog. If you have any apps, games, experiments, or manipulatives that you wouldn’t teach without, please share them below!

 

 

 

 

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10 thoughts on “When to say no to Twitter, in 140 chars or less

  1. Hey Amie, I love how you wrote your arguments in 140 characters or less. That was awesome! I also agree with your point on grammar and on multi tasking. Students are still learning proper grammar and sentence formation and Twitter could potentially set them back when it comes to that knowledge development. The point on multi tasking I had never really thought about before but I totally agree, looking back on my highschool and elementary days there were so many kids that couldn’t focus on a single task so entering Twitter in the mix could complicate things more. I am also curious to know what other apps you found that you enjoyed more than Twitter?

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    1. Thanks Rhandi! It’s not so much that I have found other apps that I enjoy more than Twitter… I am actually quite a fan of using it for networking in the Ed world! However, I turn to my 14 year old daughter for advice quite often when it comes to my Middle Years lesson ideas, assessment feedback, and now technology in the classroom. I want to read more about how to apply the apps that she and her peers ARE using – like Snapchat and Instagram – and consider authentic ways to integrate them into my lessons. I think technology has to remain fluid, and if it is supporting the learning, we can do that with a variety of apps. I will keep you posted on any others I find!

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  2. Interesting take on this! I pose to you two questions:
    1. What about using Twitter as a means of showcasing what you are doing in the classroom to parents and family members?
    2. Do you think that Twitter could be used in the classroom to promote a more kind online persona?

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    1. Thanks Jen! You raise a good point, because I do think Twitter is used by some parents and family members, and having a classroom account can be a good way to share learning. I find that my own children’s teachers do use Twitter but it is still more teacher to teacher focused than to share knowledge with parents. Parents don’t seem to follow/use Twitter. However, having a classroom blog can include homework updates, showcasing accomplishments and learning in the class, and a consistent place for students and parents to go for information. Blog updates can go out via Twitter and Facebook, as well as other methods, benefiting those parents that do use these social media outlets.

      I also like your point about online citizenship. I do think this is important to teach. My point above was just that we need to teach in person communication as well as online. I think you are right that Twitter could be used for online citizenship; for one thing, there are a lot of examples of disrespectful comments and poor choices made on Twitter. I can see sharing some of these in the classroom could lead to some interesting and engaged discussions! On the other hand, to provide students with an opportunity to demonstrate their own good online persona, I would consider the ages and dynamics of the students in the class. I might look at using a different app that would provide a safe environment to experiment, take risks and make mistakes without doing so in a public forum. Hopefully, teaching students to think before they post will create habits that transfer into the apps they use.

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  3. Great post, Aime! You made some excellent points, and I’m going to try to touch on a few of them.

    First, I think it’s interesting that while writing this post you actually convinced yourself that maybe Twitter is not the most effective #edtech tool. Robin and I, while writing our post about Snapchat in the classroom, had the opposite experience. At first, we were both very anti-Snapchat — after all, it is known as the “sexting app”. But after doing some research, we discovered that, although not the most versatile tool, there are some very creative ways that it can be used in the classroom.

    But that brings me to my next point. I wonder if we are using these kinds of social media platforms to “have an in” with our students in a way. I’ve been struggling with this idea for awhile now. Do we really need to “edu-fy” every technology to make it useable in the classroom? Are we trying too hard? I totally agree with your statement that our students’ learning needs to be at the centre of our teaching, and I think that technology should enhance or support that learning — it shouldn’t be used randomly. I wonder if there are more effective #edtech tools that could be used to engage our students.

    Last, I’d like to touch on your argument that Twitter encourages poor spelling and grammar skills. From an English-teacher perspective, I actually think that Twitter encourages good writing skills. The 140-character limit forces students to be concise, which is a very important skill to learn — more words is not necessarily better. As for the spelling and grammar, we talked about this in my ELNG class last year. There are many different forms of language; students use a different type of language when they are at home with their families vs. hanging out with friends vs. in the classroom. Online language is just another type. Many teachers stress formal, academic language, so I understand your point, but I think it is important to give our students opportunities to practice and develop all these types of languages, and Twitter is a way to do that.

    I apologize for this long-winded comment, but you gave me a lot to think about! Again, excellent post!

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  4. Thanks for your comments, Amy. I look forward to reading about your Snapchat thoughts, because as I mentioned, it gets my kids’ seal of approval. If Snapchat is going to be used in the classroom, it certainly provides “an in” with the students right now.

    I agree that using tech in the classroom is not a simple “yes or no”. Would you agree that it needs to meet a series of parameters? Possibly the following:
    1. Does it improve the content delivery?
    2. Does it engage the students?
    3. Can it do both the above, without diminishing either one?
    I haven’t tested this theory out on any of my own lessons that use tech, but perhaps that is the next step to developing my own philosophy on Edtech.

    Lastly, although I am a hard-core English teacher and love the written language, I can agree that our society has been developing different, informal linguistics styles for a variety of online mediums. There are many more styles of writing, and we should definitely include all of these in ELA lessons!

    I appreciate your comments, as they reinforce just how complicated these issues can be. Thanks!

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