Twitter in Schools

There has recently been a growing discussion around Twitter’s use as a front channel, highlighted no better than at the recent Somesso social media conference in London.

Alongside the speaker’s stage was a big screen with a live twitter feed which pulled in tweets with the relevant #smo09 hashtag, which provided a real time commentary of what was being said.

So, why can something similar not be used in schools?

This week, a Scottish teacher has been investigated following her reported use of Twitter, which is prohibited by the school she works at. She is not facing disciplinary action, but her local council is ‘looking into the matter’.

The content of her tweets revolved around some of her classes, and weren’t particularly positive:

“Had S3 period 6 for last two years…don’t know who least wants to do anything, them or me.”

“The thought of having some of my S4 beyond exam time doesn’t bear thinking about – for them as well as me I suspect.”

Now, I am not condoning her use of Twitter as a vent – I think it was unprofessional and naive. However, I think this raises a valid question: How can Twitter be used in the classroom?

David Hopkins put together a deck which looked at exactly this, and he hit upon several idea:

Classes: Open discussion in timetables seminar/class, continue outside the classroom
Community: Create community feel through linked tweets
Instant feedback: Approval/disapproval of recent discussions, issues, etc
Public notepad: Share inspiration, reading, thought, ideas etc
Technology: Laptops, netbooks, iPhones / iTouch and other smartphones, any Internet enabled device
Messages: Use Twitter as personal message board

You could not use Twitter (yet) in a class full of 12 year olds, they would, I’d predict, abuse this and use it for purposes other than education. However, if you are in a class at University or 6th form and have access to the internet, these pupils should be self-constrained enough to use this as a platform to share ideas and questions with each other. This helps to stimulate discussion and to rationalise thoughts with your peers and to engage with the subject you are following.

To restrict use of Twitter will soon be seen as draconian and the first group to rebel against this will be those in education who should have acces to the latest technologies to help them learn and devlop ideas.

To follow innovative education related people, have a read of thisTop Ten Twitter Education Feeds post.

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