So I had it all planned out.
My school’s filtering scheme doesn’t block Twitter, and I’ve tried Tweeting from school via both Twitterfox and the website. Good to go.
Dramatis personae: Sophomores, 15 and 16 years old. Familiar with IM and chat rooms, intrigued, if slightly confused, by the screenshot of a Twitter timeline I broadcast from our LCD projector. I explain my rationale to them: Personal learning network (sorta, but close enough for their purposes). Community engagement. Learning beyond the classroom walls. Relevant links and possible extra credit opportunities. A permanent log of communication (so keep it professional & civil). The kids were interested, but still a little apprehensive as to what this funny-sounding website was all about. Then I dropped the hammer.
“Whoa!” “That’s awesome!” “Can we do that!” (Yes, yes, and no – I’m making them protect their updates)
We must have watched Twittervision for a good 5 minutes, commenting on the nature and purpose of various Tweets. We sent a class Tweet out from my personal account, and Konrad G was good enough to send back a shout-out all the way from Canadia. The kids were now ready to go. I gave them guidelines for creating their usernames, and they got started at Twitter.com. All was going well until I was asked, “Mr. B – it’s telling me to type in two words, but I don’t see the two words it’s talking about.”
The browser on the school laptops would not display the Captcha image on any of the 26 laptops the kids were using (and what kind of fanboy would I be if I didn’t mention I had no problem seeing it with Firefox on my tablet?).
And so the excitement that had built around using Twitter for educational purposes ground to an unceremonious halt with ten minutes left in the period. My solution? I’m going to create 26 student accounts on my home computer over the weekend and have them log in and start Tweeting on Monday.
Not what I had planned, but not an utter disaster, either. At least I’ve got them curious, and I got the impression that some kids were going to set up personal accounts over the weekend to play with. Maybe they’ll engage in their own self-directed learning and discovery this weekend.