Saturday, June 06, 2009

Using Twitter in the Classroom?

Over on Jesus Creed, Scot McKnight asks about Twitter in the Classroom. As some of my readers know, I am a bit of a twitter-holic myself but I have never tried using it in the classroom. Well I suppose on one level, taken literally, the "in the classroom" question is a bit daft because the point of social networking is that it's something done virtually while you are not in the same physical environment. I find live-voice messaging superior when I am in the same physical space as another person. But that's being facetious. Of course the question being asked is whether we extend our engagement with students outside of the classroom by using technology like Twitter.

My kids think that Twitter is the preserve of middle-aged people. The youth all use Facebook. From discussions with my students, this kind of impression has been confirmed for their generation too. I talked a bit to my Historical Jesus class last semester about Twitter and was surprised to find out that very few students in the class even had a twitter account. Our student paper here at Duke, The Chronicle, had a nice piece called Tweet tweet. What's the Rage? this last semester, but discussions with students suggest that Twitter is hardly on their radar while Facebook is their natural hunting ground. When I suggested that one of my advisees talk to another student who shared the same research interests, I said that I would look out her email address and she replied, "Don't worry; I'll just find her on Facebook". The average undergraduate apparently has over 900 friends on Facebook.

This is all a long-winded way of saying that I don't think that undergraduates are embracing Twitter yet to the extent that it can provide a useful venue -- for me -- for supplementing teaching. The time may well come, but I like to work with things that students already have some familiarity with, like Instant Messaging, which I still think provides a great way of communicating outside the classroom.


Targuman said...

Mark, I don't know if you saw my comments regarding the usefulness of twitter in the classroom (and church) from a couple of months ago:

Mark Goodacre said...

Thanks, Chris. I remember that, now you mention it. Thanks for the reminder.