Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Twitter Learning

Imagine the following situation: A teacher asks students to think consider an interesting question. First, one student wants to contribute an idea. Then, three students have their hands up. Soon half the class has their hands up. Unfortunately, the teacher had never anticipated spending half the class discussing this one question, but the student contributions are highly insightful and the teacher does not want to stifle the dialogue. Once upon a time, few options existed. The conversation would have to run its course.

But Twitter and smart boards have changed all that. Rather than asking students to wait their turn to speak, the teacher might have all students twitter in their response to the question. Students would simply have to ensure that their comments were fewer than 140 characters. If the teacher asks students to enter a unique class tag (identification) word within their comment, all student posts could be displayed on a smart board in front of the room. (Twitter's search feature, located at www.search.twitter.com, makes this possible.) In order to ensure that students read each others comments each student could be asked to comment on at least two, or X, number of comments.

It's one thing for a teacher to ask students to Twitter.

But, publishing companies could ask students to respond to powerful questions related to important content, using Twitter. Publishers could set up their own unique terms that students could include in responses to specific questions. Content experts could be asked to weigh in on these discussions, as well. All of the sudden, academic dialogue would extend well beyond the classroom walls.

CNN does it. Why can't you?

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