Let 'em tweet: social media in the classroom


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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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Let 'em tweet: social media in the classroom

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