I typically wait until I have interacted with a class at least a week or two to determine their likes, dislikes, experiences, and proclivity with various computer-mediated communication before I offer up assignments in digital format. This is especially important at my institution, where the average age is 27, the typical student does not own a computer, students rely on smart-phones for academic activities, where our students are working at least part time, and many have families to care for. Any new activity must relate well to the class needs and not just throw technology at the students just to use that technology. It should be integrated, purposeful, and engaging. This semester I have a lot of new ideas for the classes I will be teaching both in the summer and fall semesters. I am eager to explore new opportunities with the students. I am also looking forward to continuing to link the social media and digital media with our classroom content.
Lastly, this semester I am crafting a goal to slant my tweets toward weekly course content updates, important university dates/news, and tips for my students, though I will continue to tweet regular topics as well. The hash-tag feature (#) will allow my students to track the course news and communicate with me and with one another. I am eager to see if tweeted news and updates will help the class stay on task and relate their class content to their lives.
There are still concerns about mandating any social media use in class -- the privacy issues are still out there for many of us. So any of my assignments always have the OPTION for social networking and can be completed in other formats. I know there are instructors requiring students to craft profiles on a variety of sites, but at this time that feels too invasive to me. I go with my personal feeling on this issue and stay up to date on literature relating to this topic. One thing I don't worry about is the fact that many students need to learn the responsible use of social media (including implications, privacy settings, and data mining) and feel my assignments help foster that understanding.
Looking for more? Here are a few additional resources for using Twitter in the classroom:
- Twitter Projects
- Faculty Focus
- Additional article from US News
- A very basic video explanation of Twitter for those new to Twitter
- Video (in depth) of study of Twitter on student engagement and success
- Video about incorporating students in discussion using Twitter