Musings and professional dossier of an educator, geographer, and educational developer

Category: Participation

The casually tweeting instructor

Photo: Beth Hundey, Uinta Mountains

Photo: Beth Hundey, Uinta Mountains

There are many great examples of assessments and activities on the web that involve using twitter to interact with students… but what about those instructors who would like to use twitter on a bit more of a casual basis?  If you’re not assessing students, and just communicating, are there rules? Is it a free-for-all? Go wild?

Here are tips for the casually tweeting instructor by the casually tweeting instructor .

Setting up

  1. Create a hashtag unique to your class.  Using this hashtag, students can see what you have said, but also follow the discussion of their classmates (provided they also use the hashtag, when relevent. Basically, a hashtag serves as a common discussion topic.
    1. Think up a hashtag. E.g. #litwestern #ENG2500
    2. Search for the hashtag in twitter.  If nothing (or very little) is returned, this is a unique hashtag
    3. Tell students to include the hashtag in the posts intended to be shared with the class.
    4. You have now completed the most important task. #hashtag
  2. Ask students to follow you.
  3. Don’t follow students back (and tell them you’re not going to!).  You can still see what they post about the class because they will either include your handle or the hashtag.  You don’t need to know what else they are tweeting about, and it could cause problems if you do know what else they are tweeting about.

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Reflection: Technology in teaching

There are many reasons why instructors use new technology in their teaching

  • It’s shiny and new, it’s fancy! Of course I want to use it!
  • If I don’t do it, I’ll be a dinosaur.
  • My students are using technology that is alien to me – I better pick up on it so I can speak their language.

Why do you choose any of the teaching methods that you use? Why do you sometimes pick up chalk or a marker instead of showing a downloaded image? Why do you demonstrate how to do something rather than give a handout? I’m sure you have your reasons, and your teaching methods that involve technology need good reasons too!

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Collaborative Mind-Mapping Sesh a Succesh!

I’m not sure how other educators decide when to incorporate active learning, but for me the process goes something like this:

Not total chaos...

Not total chaos…

In sum, I generally develop/ incorporate active learning activities to deal with the boring-lecture-problem, rather than start off with active learning activities that I’m dying to incorporate.  This might explain why I use the most random mix of active learning activities, many of which don’t have names (that I know of).

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Why twitter-ed? The noobie edition

I, too, resisted twitter, not so long ago.  Then, I took a great teaching training program in which I had to come up with a research topic for my final written project. I wanted to research ways to effectively engage a large class, as my first lecture for my first class loomed before me. Lo and behold, I found that twitter might be just the tool to help me connect. It’s safe to say I’m now converted (and I use it in small classes as well).  Now I find myself frequently vouching for the merits of twitter for teaching and learning.

So, if you are an educator who has never clicked on the little blue bird and signed yourself up for 140 characters worth of self-expression, this post is for you. This is is not the how, this is the why. And highly effective teachers who use technology always start with the why.  So…

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