Saturday, June 11, 2011

not your mother's tweety bird

Twitter.  Do you use it?  Do your kids/students use it?  As media and technology evolve at an exponential pace, how do we keep up?  And how do we figure out meaningful ways to incorporate technology into the lives of children?

You may have seen the recent article on Twitter in the classroom at  Brave teachers around the globe are using social media as an educational tool.  They're using Twitter as a forum for students to respond to questions in class.  Of course, many people are resistant to new technology, and the use of Twitter in the classroom has been met with some controversy.  Critics worry that it will breed a socially inept generation lacking in verbal communication skills.  I agree that kids should not solely communicate via tweets.  That would be weird.   They would be missing out on important opportunities to practice verbal communication and social skills.  That said, the moderate use of twitter in conjunction with traditional classroom discussion introduces an awesome new group learning dynamic.  

Think back on your own experience at school.  When your teachers would ask questions, did the whole class raise their hands to respond?  If your experience was like mine, it was usually the same 4 or 5 kids monopolizing the conversation (Ok...I admit...I was one of those kids...).  But what about the kids who aren't talking?  What about their ideas?  By using Twitter, even the shy or less interested kids are encouraged (or required) to share their thoughts.  Not only does this benefit the quiet kids by getting them to engage in the topic, it also benefits the talkative kids who might otherwise not have had the chance to learn from their quieter peers.

Twitter is just the tip of the iceberg.  There are a host of social media tools that, if used right, could really enrich the classroom learning experience.  Check out this list in Knewton's EdTech Blog for some ideas.

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