Today’s students learn differently. E-Learning has changed the learning process; students thrive with collaboration, and instant feedback. Today, eLearning is almost inseparable from mobile learning or the use of handheld computing devices to provide access to learning content. Mobile Learning or mLearning, an extended arm of eLearning is designed to deliver learning content in bits and pieces rather than large units of information. One of the tools that make mobile learning dynamically possible is Twitter.
Before we begin describing how twitter can expand the classrooms beyond the static boundaries and traditional pedagogy, it is helpful to say a few things about Twitter itself. Twitter is a microblogging website that allows users to share ideas, send text entries, ask questions, and respond to inquiries. These are all collectively called Tweets which do not exceed 140 characters. Tweets are displayed in the user profile page and are also sent to all users who opt to receive them. People, who have chosen to receive your tweets, are called your followers. You can follow people and what they say, and they can follow you, and what you say.
The concept of “following” creates a conversation space where instructors can connect to their students on a wider level as well as on a personal level before and after the lecture. Before the start of class, thought- provoking topics for class discussion can be tweeted to students with the intent of motivating students to begin thinking about the topic before coming into the class.
Twitter, used in this example, is an excellent medium for encouraging critical thinking. The instructor can send a tweet to activate student’s background information about the topic by raising questions even before the lecture begins. Additionally, instructors can use Twitter after the lecture as a rapid fire recap of class discussions by asking students to summarize key points, to polling questions, to solicit student’s feedback, and as a reminder of deadlines for projects and homework.
The decentralized communication method of twitter gives the students an alternative way to participate, improving their personal communication skills, and providing an outlet to ask questions. The dynamics of an intellectual yet homogenous learning environment where students contentiously drive the discussion and argue their points is difficult to create when the lecture is over. With the help of Twitter, whether it is an intellectual debate or a follow-up to a research idea; the discussion can continue even when the lecture is over.
The only way to find out how Twitter can help your class is to create your own Twitter feed and start tweeting. You will be surprised that many of your students are already veteran Twitter users. Please don’t forget to follow us @tactraining.