The verdict is in: this past semester’s Twitteracy Project was a bust.
To put it succinctly, I think the two main roadblocks were 1) the technology at home and 2) student motivation. Many kids reported problems even being able to log in to Twitter from home, let alone send messages. I suggested they upgrade IE, I suggested they try Firefox if they were using IE (sorry, Bill), but all to no effect. Also, the students had to be motivated enough to log in and send messages, which very few of them were. In a class of 24, I think there were only 4 or 5 “regulars”, and when no one else was joining in, even they lost interest by about Thanksgiving or so.
Not one to learn lessons easily, I’m implementing the project again this semester, this time with my Honors Brit Lit juniors & seniors. While I can’t address their home technical issues, I hope that their intrinsic motivation will be a little higher than my sophomores’. Sure enough, just when I needed a little inspiration, The Chronicle of Higher Ed [via Twitter’s blog] runs a story about David Parry, a UT-Dallas professor who used Twitter with his students to great success. The big payoff, according to the prof?
The immediacy of the messages helped the students feel like more of a community, Mr. Parry said in an interview Monday. “It was the single thing that changed the classroom dynamics more than anything I’ve ever done teaching,” he said.
Further reading: Twitter article on Dave Parry’s blog, academHack.
Edit: He’s @academicdave on Twitter, if you want to see what he’s doing with his students.