Each week we meet via Twitter for #IOLchat to discuss current issues related to online learning. Participants include students, instructors, eLearning companies, schools, publishers, and instructional designers.
Our moderator, Melissa, and social media manager, Laura, are participating in two conference sessions (TCC Online Conference and Social Learning Summit) this week to discuss the use of Twitter in online learning environments. This week's chat topic was designed to help expand on the topic and resulting conversations. Are you currently using Twitter as part of a formal course or to build your professional network? Do you think use of the microblogging platform could benefit students? Here's a summary of this week's discussion:
How are you using Twitter in education?
- Through a school account, vs. individual account, to connect with the general public as well as students.
- To send out announcements and to provide links to interesting resources.
- For professional networking with other educators.
- To promote interaction.
- As an alternative form of communication with students should the course site/LMS go offline.
- As a way to keep up with the latest news and current events in your field.
- To create a professional communication and development channel for groups of educators.
- As a forum to exchange thoughts and recommendations about educational matters, share solutions, collaborate, share good and bad experiences, make connections, and offer support.
- As a way to search for information, it can be "better than Google, especially if you have a good PLN."
- Take a look at What if School Was More Like Twitter? From Tom Whitby.
- View Twitter in U.S. Higher Education from Kelvin Thompson (Thanks @kthompso!)
What are the potential benefits of using Twitter in a course? With your students? With peer educators?
- There is already a large network of educators on Twitter that you can tap in to.
- It may promote having integrity with one's words, and development of a professional online presence, especially if tweets are not protected.
- Twitter offers a "leaner" professional development option with "less overhead…[and] much opportunity to configure as desired."
- Easy to set up and maintain an account.
- To create a dynamic and unusual option for course interaction, that can include images/photos, as well as text and URLs.
- The possibility of building a personal learning network that is global to "share, connect, and learn."
- Use Twitter in combination with other tools, such as dashboard management applications, social bookmarking, and hashtags.
- Read this post: How College Professors are Using Twitter to Re-Engage Their Students from Sociable Blog.
What are the potential challenges of using Twitter in a course? With your students? With colleagues?
- Many students aren't already on Twitter, so there may be a need to provide assistance and rationale for setting up accounts and using in class.
- The fast-paced nature of the Twitter stream can be frustrating, difficult to digest.
- Incoming flow of information can seem scattered, but discussion is possible.
- Some students, and instructors, may want to create new/separate accounts for professional use. This can be a good opportunity to discuss digital identities and the need to manage.
How can Twitter be effective for learning outside of the classroom or course site?
- As a personal learning network (PLN) you can connect with a wide range of experts, peers, and colleagues.
- To share timely resources and news about current events as they relate to course topics – can be a nice balance to studying theory, adding "real-time relevant learning."
- As a way for students to practice communicating in writing, in a second language, with native speakers.
- In the development of "lifelong learning habits" if shown the potential and wealth of resources it brings into reach.
- To conduct research – "what better way to find out information than from those that use it." Your asked questions can be answered by others in the "twittersphere."
Which education-related Twitter accounts should we follow? (Think people, places, organizations, events, etc.)
- Find people working in your field, professional organizations, and educators teaching at your level (i.e., elementary, secondary, postsecondary).
- Follow your schools, where you teach and where you study/studied.
- "Any account that informs you in some aspect of education or keeps you in the loop with the 'real world' for which you are preparing" your students to enter, or to enter yourself.
- Join groups and use common hashtags, such as #edtech, #highered, and #onlinelearning.
- Create a balanced network that includes organizations, researchers, practitioners, peers, and be on the "look out for ground-breakers and thought-leaders."
- "Create your own Twitter flow that speaks to you."
- Consider both audience and purpose when selecting people to follow, and when tweeting to your followers.
- Check out these tips from SLN Education: What I Know About Twitter (Thanks @alexpickett!)
Thanks to @mzoran, @SaeedMobarak, @eSKYsolutions, @missnoor28, @TamraExcell, @HigherEdOnlineL, @DrBruceJ, @_Lazaward_, @CarriSchneider, @SusanDemoya, @MarniDunning, @kthompso, and @alexpickett for participating and sharing in the live event! Help us to continue the discussion by adding your thoughts via the comments area on this page.
For more from the most recent live session, review the chat feed below. Our past chats can be found on the archives page.
This week's read-aheads:
50 Ways to Use Twitter in the Classroom from TeachHub
Why Use Twitter in Education? Storify from Alec Couros
Where are you (if anywhere) in the Twitter Adoption Matrix? From National Writing Project's Digital Is
5 Ways Twitter Has Changed Education from MindShift
Why Teachers Should Try Twitter from ASCD
Twitter Calendar for Higher Ed from Inside Higher Education
This week's chat feed:
Image credit: Rosaura Ochoa, Flickr, CC-BY