Ever since teaching 6th graders about blogging, I’ve paid more attention to how social media sites can enhance learning. Blogging certainly can improve writing skills and at the same time introduce children to ideas that will make them more marketable when they hit the job force (assuming they do).
I haven’t heard of elementary school teachers using Twitter, but David Parry, an assistant professor of Emerging Media and Communications at the University of Texas at Dallas says Twitter really enhances learning in his classes.
He calls Twitter a “classroom-communication tool.” His class titled, “Introduction to Computer-Mediated Communication” was the trial run. Students were required to sign up for Twitter and to send a few messages with the service each week. They had to subscribe to his Twitter feed. He updated students a few times a day on useful web sites, or the rhythm of his day.
The class made the news, but it also built community into the classroom which spilled into better class discussions. This post on using Twitter in the classroom goes more in-depth. Here are some thoughts:
- Twitter is a way to record thoughts and ideas that you search – it’s a history
- Twitter connects you to a larger world outside of the classroom and even the country
- Students can follow people who do what they want to do or who they admire and get a sense for their job and life
- Twitter can improve writing and punctuation
- Students love contests. If they hurry they can still enter Marketing Pilgrim’s Twitter contest and possibly win the free Nokia Internet Tablet (which can greatly enhance learning while waiting in line and letting you do homework, like Twittering, on the run).
So much of learning is going on inside a student’s head and you don’t know what they’re getting and how they apply what they’re learning. Twitter can give insights about the process and that can help educators make teaching more relevant.