“Teaching with Twitter” Thoughts

Even with everything going on during the speeding Quarter system, it is good to remember to take time for professional development. I had the opportunity to enroll in an online course about Teaching with Twitter, and it has made a big impression upon me as I consider applications of social media in the classroom. I’ve already talked to some folks at K about their interest in this, and I should give an enthusiastic shout out to Matt Newman in Classics who has been committed to getting the most out of Twitter in his seminar.  The Hybrid Pedagogy class itself was excellent and brought me into dialogue I might otherwise have missed with scholars I would not have encountered. Navigating this topic with individuals who take pedagogy seriously while actively using these techniques at their institutions only fueled my belief in the potential of Twitter in the classroom.

What’s that sound?!? FERPA alert! Help!

Seriously, I recognize that when you mention social media in the classroom, be it Twitter, Facebook, blogging, Instagram, whatever, many instructors and administrators immediately worry about FERPA. This reaction is responsible and important. So let’s talk FERPA quickly to make room for what I want to say. There are some differing opinions on exactly how to interpret FERPA, but to save time on my own blog, here is a concise post from Faculty Focus that I find measured and helpful.
In short, with proper precaution and smart pedagogy, you can absolutely use social media in the classroom without violating FERPA.

I have found that Twitter, in particular, is now a vibrant place for scholarly discussion and a site where networking and communication can impact learning. Twitter has allowed me to access provocative conversations about pedagogy, learning, technology, and many topics relevant to my work. If you read my tweets, you’ll notice that I started using my course’s hashtag of #twittergo. If you follow that link, you’ll get a true Twitter experience of what those dialogues were like.  That’s one of the great things about Twitter – its archival nature.  Anyone following that link (I encourage you!) could jump into a conversation that flexes between synchronous and asynchronous.  The format and orientation can be daunting; it does sprawl like Deleuze and Guattari’s beloved “rhizomes,” but that is part of the unique experience and democratizing of discourse.

If I find myself teaching again, I’m going to strongly consider using Twitter as a medium for students to connect with the course. The days of being able to dismiss the platform as folks talking about their breakfast is over. It is increasingly a place where people do scholarly work, and it has become a tool for activism, learning, networking, and much more. It is one means to take our academic mission and make it open and global.  Like Kalamazoo College, Twitter is “comprehensively internationalized.”  Also, Twitter can be an effective writing tool, training someone to choose words and structure sentences carefully for maximum impact and clarity.  I’m convinced that are lots of potential strategies for using Twitter in High Ed.

If you want something in the shallow end of immersion, here is my project from the course, which was to design a Twitter assignment (forgive the blog content overlap).
Josh Moon -Twitter Assignment
I structured it intentionally so that participants don’t have to tweet personally or even register an account. Begin with some prefacing about Twitter terminology and techniques and this assignment could be a tool to think critically about social media and professional identity, a digital literacy project.

Lastly, here is miscellanea in the form of links and quotes:

“5 Tips for College Students Who Use Twitter”

“5 Reasons Twitter is Better for College Students than Facebook.”

“How to Balance Your Personal and Professional Identity on Social Media.”

“Your concepts of academic identity and academic reputation do need to expand. Twitter and social media are now a part of scholarship, as modes of communication and of scholarly practice.”
Bonnie Stewart, Coordinator of Adult Teaching, University of Prince Edward Island. @bonstewart

“When we engage on Twitter as scholars and academics, we contribute to the growing field of knowledge about networked collaboration and learning.”
Jesse Stommel, Director of Teaching & Learning Technologies, University of Mary Washington. @Jessifer

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