I must admit, I have become a texting junkie. I love to be able to reach out quickly and send a quick “shout out” to a friend I’m thinking of without having to interrupt them with a phone call. I know the kids I teach are addicted too- our cell phone bills will confirm that texting is a HUGE part of how they communicate.
I am always interested in how I can use this obsession for my own purposes, and frankly am amazed that we, as teachers, view texting as the enemy. Parents give kids these expensive little computers; we tell the kids to put them away. Granted, they are a distraction. But what if we could turn this distraction into a way to engage them?
Enter Twitter. Twitter is a combination of microblogging, social networking, and instant messaging. Micro-blogging because it allows only 140 characters per “tweet” as messages are called. Social networking because you create a network of “followers” who receive each of your updated tweets. You can also sign up to follow someone else. Instant messaging because the tweet is updated and sent instantly. This can be done from either phone or computer.
What are the opportunities for this in the classroom? I’m thinking of several:
- Parents can “follow” the class on twitter and receive updates about what we are doing
- Students can receive tweets on their phones about upcoming assignments by subscribing to follow the classroom twitter account
- It can be used as a collaborative tool for brainstorming, helping those students who have trouble speaking up in class
(Students should be able to access twitter via a computer if they don’t have a cell phone)
I’ve placed a Twitter widget (a piece of code that puts something in your website or blog that can be updated as content changes) on my blog pages to see how I might use it. Readers will be able to see my latest tweet as well as those that are older. Stayed tuned for more as I become more adept at how this tool might help classroom communication.