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Let 'em tweet: social media in the classroom
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Let 'em tweet: social media in the classroom


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By Giorgos Cheliotis. Communications & New Media Programme, NUS. …

By Giorgos Cheliotis. Communications & New Media Programme, NUS.

We all have to deal with students who use their laptops, mobile phones or other devices in class. Some elect to forbid the use of such devices for fear that they distract students and take away from class participation. Others tolerate the habit. I will report on my experience with encouraging students to use their personal devices in class and urging them to use popular social media platforms (predominantly Twitter) for subject-relevant discussion in and out of the classroom.

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  • 1. Let ‘em tweet: Social Media in the Classroom
    Giorgos Cheliotis
    Communications and New Media
    BuzzEd 2011, NUS
    Jan 4, 2011
  • 2. Agenda
    Use of laptops in classroom
    Appropriate technology
    Introduction to NM4881A module
    Tools used for module
    Experience with using Twitter
  • 3. Laptops in the classroom?
    Some lecturers forbid their use
    Fear that students will be distracted
    It feels strange to talk to an audience that is staring at their screens
    Students tend to favor such use
    Feels natural
    Allows them to take notes electronically and look up names or concepts mentioned in class
    Provides escape from ‘boring’ lectures
    Can catch up on other things or chat while in class
  • 4. How about mobile phones and other devices ?
    Similar attitudes
    More negative reactions by some lecturers because they are associated with more casual use
    Students favor such use again
    Phones and other devices increasingly ‘smarter’ and able to function as mini laptops
    3G network may work where campus network may fail
    Lower battery consumption
  • 5. Let’s think about technology
    What is ‘appropriate technology’ for student discussion and participation?
    Depends on affordances of technology
    Must have certain features, e.g. allow for the posting of questions and answers, threading, archiving
    …but critically also depends in my view on:
    How well it integrates with users’ daily life
    Established communication habits
    User expectations of technology
  • 6. NM4881ATopics in Media Studies: Social Media
    • Module focused on the study and design of social media
    • 7. Using multiple tools for class purposes
    NUS wiki, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Delicious, Google Wave, etc.
    • Everything is open access
    • 8. Students conceptualize social media solutions for real clients
  • Tweeting @nm4881a
  • 9. Distribution of participation Sem.2 AY 2009-10
  • 10. Timeline of Tweets Sem. 2 AY 2009-10
  • 11. Distribution of participation Sem.1 AY 2010-11
  • 12. Timeline of Tweets Sem. 1 AY 2010-11
  • 13. Reflection (1 of 2)
    Benefits of twitter use in classroom
    • Increased participation (more and wider) because of ease of use and low communication requirements (low barrier to entry)
    • 14. Backchannel can operate in parallel and in silence, while lecturer or students talk in class
    • 15. Openingup the conversation allows third parties to engage in discussion with students, offer tips, advice, etc.
    • 16. Students practice a popular platform for ‘serious’ discussion or debate, testing their own skills and boundaries of free expression
  • Reflection (2 of 2)
    • Difficult to develop complex arguments; may discourage deeper reflection on class topics
    • 17. No ‘threading’, difficult to trace the origins and evolution of a discussion
    • 18. Inappropriate tweets may lead to embarrassment or worse, though students so far quite adept at managing boundaries
    • 19. Students participate for participation’s sake, easy to spam
  • Conclusion
    • Let students use the tools they love to use
    • 20. Issue is how to integrate them meaningfully with class activities or out of class
    • 21. Opening up the discussion beyond the classroom has benefits (and some risks)
    • 22. Ask students to reflect critically on their use of the tools (lecturer should as well)
    • 23. Need more wired classrooms!