If we think of Twitter we have a medium of communication or a social network in mind that allows us to obtain up-to-date information in real-time on any subject we choose, a place where the hottest news are discussed or people comment on the most popular television programs, some people even use it to find a partner – yes, that is possible. But it is also being used as a didactic medium, a complement for education.
Teachers and students can benefit from Twitter. Obviously teachers can use this micro-blogging network to get in touch with other teachers teaching the same subject in order to share resources and ideas. But it may also be a very rewarding tool for students, even if they are still very young.
Specific Uses for Twitter at School
In some elementary schools, there are cases of 5 or 6 year-old children with a Twitter account, which they are using in class – like the canadian Karen Lirenman -. Obviously in this case we are dealing with an account that belongs to the entire class and is supervised by their teacher. On this account they can tweet individually putting their first name at the end of each tweet – while the teacher watches out they are not providing personal information – and they use hashtags in order to group the tweets according to the subjects they are studying at the moment.
It is quite common that these classes discover other schools on the social network, which are working on the same subjects. And they can get in touch with them and compare results or even work together.
Another possibility is the way Jessica Caviness uses it. She is a maths teacher at a high school in Texas, who, when she noticed that her students started following her, had the idea to tweet real life examples for the problems they were studying in class. And she noticed quickly how her students stopped doing what they were doing in order to try and solve the problem or answer the questions.
But apart from these more common and interesting uses of twitter, there are other reasons to use it. It is very beneficiary to the students’ development. Here are some examples of how it can be used:
- Inform students about topics related to the contents of their classes.
- Put up a Twitter wall like the ones used in conferences in the classroom in order to see the students’ comments in real time.
- Create dedicated accounts for historical personalities or events in order to involve the students more.
- Attend students individually outside the classroom
- Quick way for the parents to contact the teacher
These interactions are beneficiary in many ways, for one thing because they bring students and teachers closer together on a personal level, but more than anything because the act of studying actually leaves the classroom and becomes omnipresent and entertaining. And this helps students learn almost without them noticing.
It is not the first time we are seeing how social networks and mobile devices can improve education. Like this, they can also help improve the experience of the students and their relationship with the subjects they are studying.
The mSchools programme is a multi-year, multi-faceted mEducation initiative by the Mobile World Capital Barcelona. The mSchools programme is designed to lower dropout rates, improve student attainment in schools across Catalonia and throughout Spain and, ultimately, to better prepare students as they pursue further education and employment in today’s digital world.
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