After my initial attempt to set up a Twitter-based personal learning network for my students was foiled by Captcha-blind laptops, I set up 26 student accounts from home. The following Wednesday, I came to class armed with usernames and passwords. I even had a Powerpoint of usernames to cycle through on our projection screen so all the kids would have to do is type “follow (username)” 26 times and be done with it. We’d all protect our updates and be Twittering away.
I don’t know if it was the multiple versions-old IE, or just slow laptops, but Twitter took forever to load. Some students managed to follow some others, but in the end, I told everybody to go home and follow the usernames I posted on my website.
Once we’re all in and following each other (I seem to be underestimating how difficult this is for them), we’ll protect our updates to create the “walled garden” effect – I have mixed feelings about this, but I prefer to err on the side of caution with something this new.
Initial response has been cautiously positive. In the last day or two, students have been Twittering basic “hey who’s there” messages. In days and weeks to come, I plan to extend the conversation beyond the classroom walls by tweeting them questions and links to discuss. I want to engage with these students on a more personal level than I have time to do in class while getting them thinking about their own learning and education, and I’m hoping this is one way to accomplish that goal.