As part of my studies for INF506 I have established a Twitter account and have enjoyed my experiences. I was initially skeptical of the educational benefits of Twitter as it limits users to 140 characters, what meaningful things can students create with 140 characters? (As an English teacher I am forever encouraging students to write more, not less!)
However, in completing the course readings and through immersing myself in the technology, I have found some excellent uses for Twitter in an educational context. I now see the advantages to having a social networking site that is limited in characters as it is easy for students and teachers to stay informed about a multitude of topics. I was impressed with Valenza’s idea of using Twitter to ‘follow conversations about breaking issues in the news’ (2009). I thought this was an excellent point as I am often saddened about students lack of knowledge about current issues, so this idea is one that I will certainly be trying in the classroom. I am also enthused about Valenza’s idea as, through Twitter, students will not only be able to receive reports of breaking news but can follow conversations about such topics that may lead them to thinking more critically and to realise that there are often many perspectives involved in an issue.
Another idea presented by Valenza is that of using Twitter to ‘locate and contact experts’ (2009). Again this was something I had not thought of prior to completing this course and I think that it is a fantastic way to engage students in issues. I am also excited about using this idea as an English teacher, as I think it would be great for students to follow and contact authors. A while ago I had a year 7 class who kept asking me questions about the book that we were reading so I eventually sent the author an email, not expecting anything to come of it. Well, the author contacted me back with a great email answering the many questions I had sent her. I read the email to the year 7 class and they were absolutely delighted, not only to have their questions answered but to have received an email from an author. It made reading a much more personal experience and I am excited about using Twitter in this regard.
This course has opened my eyes to the many educational benefits that can be gained from using social media and it has encouraged me to keep researching and exploring.
Valenza, J. (27 September, 2009). 14 ways K-12 librarians can teach social media. Tech & Learning: Ideas and Tools for Ed Tech Leaders.