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.
Their homework over the weekend will include logging into our class wiki and developing some general guidelines for safe online practice.
Thanks for giving me the heads up (on Twitter of course) 😉
Just a little hiccup… still curious about how it works out.
Was actually a little surprised that no one knew what Twitter was. Mistakenly thought it had already caught with teens. Agree that some will get curious before the next class!
@Jim No problem – glad to have you drop by and comment!
Believe it or not, not a single one of them had even heard of Twitter. I’d be more shocked, but my prior experiences with teens & Internet has taught me that many of them tend to carve out their own niches (e.g., MySpace) and stick with what they know, unless there’s academic research involved. Even then, their search techniques (or “Google-fu”) often leave much to be desired.
Examples like these are why I don’t totally agree with the whole “digital natives” label many of us give to our teens – I think it’s only partially accurate.
Way to think outside those confining browsers…er, boxes….
you know, I am experiencing the same problem with my home computer and my computer at school…I can not see the Captcha on David Warlick’s blog. Has anyone else had that problem? I used to be able to post there, but now I can not…any ideas?
My high school students have no idea about Twitter, they barley know about blogs! I have just starting blogging with them and they are starting to get the hang of it. I know it would be a bit soon for me to show them the value of tweeting…(I’m not sure I even see the value in it).
But cheers to you for going there! Have fun and keep us posted!
Wow, this is a great description you’ve provided! I hope you keep us posted. I have a much different situation as I am teaching students in eleven different states (distance learning) …perhaps the distances will make things even more exciting. I’ll just have to work on creating instructions that are very clear and easy to follow. I am especially interested in what your feed page will look like when then the students start sending in their tweets. Will it be a comprehensible discussion at all, I wonder? If not, then that’s not necessarily so bad. Thanks so much for sharing this!
@John I’ll post some screenshots once they get a little more interesting (and once I can figure out how to get a legible shot into this layout). I’m interested to see how it turns out, too. So far, the kids seem to be interested, but are being hindered by a combination of their own browser restrictions and Twitter’s recent technical flakiness. I hope they stick with it, though.
Thanks for dropping by; hope you post again soon. If you do this with your distance learners, please drop by to offer your insights.