When we’re in a traditional classroom setting, no one really thinks of using social media to be conducive to school work. Social media is usually banned in classrooms, and technology is not as used as it should be. When you think of class discussions, no one ever thinks of tweeting, right?
Our English teacher discovered a website called twitchat or tweetchat, that allows students, anyone really, to chat using tweets. One utilizes a specific chat hash tag so all the responses direct to one unique-to-that-discussion page. That way strangers don’t really find your semiprivate chats, and there aren’t other tweets with the same hash tag mixed in with the class discussion. Our first attempts at using it were definitely different from anything we’ve ever done before.
There are a couple of pros and cons to using a twitchat as a class discussion. For the benefits, it surely is different from the norm, and it does keep things interesting while appealing to teenagers. The responses to class discussions are also limited to a certain number of characters including the hash tag used, so it COULD be conducive to getting more concise, to-the-point responses, but it could also be harder to answer questions that require deeper thought. The chats also allow the teacher to see whose posts were most popular, most favorites, most frequent…etc.
There are several problems with the twitchat/tweetchat at the moment. It is extremely slow, especially when used with one server, and responses are lagging in speed. Responses from questions could show up way into the next question. Students are also less able to respond fully to all responses as well. Hash tags can take up a lot of space if really long, limiting response lengths, and the need for a unique hash tag can hinder the amount or collection of responses to that discussion.
As with everything new, there are faults and benefits. It takes getting used to, but new ideas and new methods often lead to better inventions, brighter ideas, and improved communication. Tweetchat would be a great opportunity for teachers to try using social media in class discussions.
Class, let’s tweet.