Of the roughly 85 students in my English Curriculum Studies unit, currently about 62 are following our class twitter account @CLB_018
No mean feat considering it is only week 4.
However, it is week 4 of a 9 week unit, meaning we’re almost half way done (eek! I still have so much to SAY!)
Aaaand, I’m aware that a small handful of those followers may be spamish.
So today I am embarking on a twit hunt – hunting through my list of followers to see who has not tweeted anything (many only joined for class and only follow the class profile). I’m going to DM each of them individually and privately to encourage them to participate.
Am I going overboard in doing this?
On one hand this looks exactly like the kind of time-consuming ‘tech monitoring’ that teachers often tell me they don’t like about teaching online.
On the other hand, I see it as analogous to checking students’ workbooks a few weeks in to term and pointing out their missing work. Is this something that University teachers see as beyond the scope of their ‘job’? I don’t.
But please – please – tell me if you think this is too much, or if this seems like a good strategy to you. Especially if you do something similar – did it work?
#1 by Carlie on March 23, 2011 - 3:43 pm
I think… going overboard. I’m a tech savy person and have used twitter in the past, but I found that it took up too much of my time, and if I was absent for a day I missed many messages. Twitter wasn’t for me, it didn’t suit my style of using the internet, getting information from the internet and interacting with people on the internet.
I much prefer using facebook, subscribing to rss feeds…. there are already so many ways of getting information out there and people have their choices. You could easily set up websites and facebook groups that shows latest tweets. Also students don’t have to be subscribed/using twitter to be able to read your twitter messages.
Now I could understand making sure that students were participating if that was part of the class – for instance if this was distance education and the online talking was the only way students could communicate with each other. And when I graduate and become a teacher I want to set up a class website where I can post information and students can contribute or ask questions. I understand that many to-be teachers (and current teachers) are not “digital natives” and need to try and bridge this gap, but it sort of makes me think of the matrix…. You can show them the door but they have to walk through it. Just sharing twitter and all it’s uses will make some people check it out, and even use it regularly. But forcing people to use it… well maybe they’ll use it for this course, they might not ever use it again.
By all means, if you have the time, you can dm them. Hell, it may be all they need as a prod to start exploring it further. I do think it may be a good idea, and I do agree that you need to check out our student’s work. I’m an outsider (studying at UQ), but right now I can’t see the value of the twitter account, and I think if I was your student I would have looked at the twitter account and dismissed it. (I have subscribed to your classes blog though).
#2 by kmcg2375 on March 23, 2011 - 9:44 pm
Thanks carlie, I see what you mean. I guess one thing I’m finding tricky to navigate is how to justify the extra level of communication as ‘necessary’. It’s reasonable to prescribe an academic reading (or several) each week and call that learning experience ‘necessary’; its a taken for granted experience. Perhaps this goes to show how much weight I ascribe to the learning process I see happening in this medium. If I consider it like a homework club…it makes sense that I’d keep inviting ppl to come. But also have to ensure the tone stays one of voluntary engagement (in the sense that everyone has been asked to make an account, but tweeting was never ‘mandatory’)
Thanks for the valuable feedback!
#3 by stagesixenglish on March 23, 2011 - 6:49 pm
I hope it wouldn’t be too much. We check our mail boxes, despite not getting physical material mail everyday? However, the points made by Carlie are valid, that’s why we need more people to see the positive interaction that occurs when you need it. That’s the ideal of point of need, personalised learning. It might not be everyday, but if you have a question or help answer a question from someone, it helps all. Out of my uni class, only one joined and uses it. That doesn’t mean the others are any worse, just they think differently about learning.
The ideal is that we all realise learning just doesn’t occur in formal, traditional settings, but every where, with many lecturers or teachers.
#4 by kmcg2375 on March 23, 2011 - 9:55 pm
One thing I found troy was that making it mandatory is important. Of course, in the tertiary context there is an unwritten but quietly understood rule that NOTHING is mandatory unless its assessed! But setting the expectation as being one of participation has helped, a lot.
Also, its only ‘extras’ that go up there – blackboard is still the central, sanctioned ‘mandatory’ place that students have to check to pass assignments. That’s an equity issue don’t ya reckon?