What worked: Teaching about Twitter WITHOUT an account.
Don’t start the class by building a twitter account. Instead, give them an opportunity to explore twitter in a safe environment where they can explore and can click on anything – which can be done by searching twitter without an account. We did this by going to http://www.twitter.com/search and then encouraging participants to…
1) Search for a topic or subject of interest, perhaps a recent event, tv show, etc. Have them click around, exploring who the individuals are that are posting, what they are saying about the topic.
2) Eventually, the question comes up “What’s that # sign thing?” We then transition into hashtags and talk about what they are used for. We also provide links to some of the most popular educational hashtags – and ask them to search for some educationally related hashtags.
We used the following sites for education related hashtags:
3) Next, we moved to searching for people and/or job roles. For example, we typed in “Third Grade Teacher”, and then switched the search so it’s by people instead of tweets. Most of the time this gave us a list of individuals who had “Third Grade Teacher” in their bio. Again,we gave time for them to explore, looking through these individuals for the following…
a) What types of information did they tweet?
b) How did they set up their profile? did they have a bio, what was in it?
c) Would you follow this person or not? Why? (this is important because it impacts how you build your account)
Overall, I was happy with how this worked out. It not only gave them a safe way to explore twitter, it also helped them out when it became time to create their twitter account. Since they had already previewed other teacher accounts, it was much easier for them to understand why a bio and photo are important.
What I need to work on…
NEED: Specific classroom examples
Although we referenced the article “How Twitter is used in West Des Moines Schools” (http://wp.me/s1JF02-twitter), this information was too generic. Individuals who were building a professional account for themselves were fine – but those who wanted to explore it as a classroom tool for communicating with parents and students – they were desiring more detail. I need to create some specific profiles that highlight exactly how classrooms are using Twitter. Within these profiles, I need to include screen shots showing the type of content that’s shared and how they involve/engage parents and students.
NEED: More ways to convince newbies to jump in.
The structure of our class (a single three-hour introductory course) did not lend itself to encouraging staff to “jump in”. The time was ideal for searching and exploring twitter – but when it came time to jump in with your new account, folks were still pretty reluctance. I’m wondering if it would be better to have a separate follow-up session? or if I just need some better structured activities for encouraging more engagement with their new accounts?
Here’s a copy of our full agenda/outline in Word : Twitter in the Classroom