Monthly Archives: September 2008

Twitter…Ideas for using and learning with Twitter

Have you heard of Twitter? If you haven’t, you might want to give it a try. I just love it and have already learned so much from people all over the world through their tweets (twitter posts).

Twitter essentially is a micro blog that asks one question:

What are you doing, right now? Individuals are limited in their postings to 140 characters and can tweet from their PC or from their cell phone.  People can also receive messages on their phone or a web page.

I have been using Twitter for about six months. As an educational technologist, I have been very interested in looking at Twitter as a learning tool. I have some preliminary ideas that I will share below. I have found Twitter to be incredibly informative, however, some people have found Twittter to be fun but not necessarily helpful. Here are some suggestions that I have been using that has helped me take advantage of Twitter.

1. I have searched out and try to follow a topic. For example, I currently follow mostly people who have identified themselves as “educational technologists” or technology experts. When these folks twitter, their posts are almost always useful! They frequently post links to new technology applications or to new posts on their blogs or websites.

2. I use TwitterFox to monitor Twitter updates every time I log on. I found that without this type of application, I was not always taking advantage of the benefits of Twitter. If you don’t check in, you can’t see what others are posting! TwitterFox sits in the lower right corner of FireFox and as the people I follow update their posts, every five minutes or so a small screen shows these updates. This allows me to ignore or follow an interesting post or link.

Classroom application idea:

It would be very interesting for college students or older high school students to follow a topic. For example, one could follow the election on electiontwitter.com or people’s responses to some other current event like hurricanes.  Election twitter filters all public postings on Twitter and posts them on the website. The hurricane twitter feed shows current updates about hurricanes in Florida. Virtually any topic can be followed. A teacher would need to decide when this is age appropriate as these postings are interesting and often informative but not censored. A teacher could also “twitter” classroom updates or have students do so.

Some other helpful information/links about using Twitter:

Newbies Guide to Twitter (From CNET- A great guide.)

Twitter: Use it productively (A bit business focused.)

50 Ideas on Using Twitter for Business (While business focused, it provides some useful ideas for anyone.)

Using Twitter as an Educational Tool (Great site with educational ideas and links to other ideas!).

I would love to hear what you are doing with Twitter in the classroom. Comment to this blog or email them.

Quality use matters…

We need to go beyond looking at all technology integration efforts as equal. They just aren’t.

Example:

Teacher creates a Power Point to support a lecture vs. student creates a Power Point to document what he learned.

Question: Which example do you think has a greater potential of improving student learning?

Answer: The student created project. This assumes, of course, that the student is required to fully document learning with clear and high expectations above over just the visual aspects of the project.

A number of frameworks exist for looking at how technology integration can support learning. Overarching themes can be found in all of the frameworks. These themes essentially involve teachers becoming more student-centered in their efforts as they progress up each level. Additionally, teachers include higher level thinking activities and the technology use becomes more sophisticated and may even go beyond the classroom walls as the teacher progresses.

One very popular framework is the LoTI Framework developed by Dr. Christopher Moersh. This framework provides a way to examine technology use in the classroom. The framework moves from Level 0 (non use) to Level 6 (Refinement). This framework aligns nicely with Bloom’s Taxonomy and project-based learning. Essentially, the higher the level, the more student-centered the learning becomes. At level 6 the technology use moves beyond the classroom, reaching out to the outside world in some way. For example, a high school Spanish class may create a web-site for a third grade class also learning Spanish. You can also read about this framework in Dr. Moersch’s book, Beyond Hardware: Using Existing Technology to Promote Higher-Level Thinking .

Another framework comes from the ACOT research project which looked at how a group of teachers adopted technology over a ten year period. These stages are: Entry, adoption, adaptation, appropriation, and invention.

Here again, teachers become more sophisticated as they use a technology application. During the invention stage, a teacher may begin to use a technology application to support other learning objectives that had nothing to do with an original intention.

You can read more about this study in, Teaching With Technology: Creating Student-Centered Classrooms.

Another framework that examines how an organization adopts technology, is the diffusions of innovations theory. Dr. Rogers (2003) studied how a technology or new practice is adopted over time in an organization. The results of his work show that the adopters emerge in a bell-shaped curve. Rogers describes five groups in regards to adopting a new technology or new practice. These groups are:

1) innovators 2.5 % of the population

(2) early adopters 13.5 % of the population

(3) early majority 34%

(4) late majority 34%, and

(5) laggards 16%

Rogers also describes a series of stages that may occur during adoption:

1. awareness,
2. interest,
3. evaluation,
4. trial, and
5. adoption

There are a number of other frameworks that exist. These frameworks help to describe what can happen to a teacher as they begin to learn about how to best use a specific technology application. As the teacher becomes more proficient with the technology, she can begin to more clearly see how to best use the technology to promote student learning. However, teachers need to be encouraged to think deeply about what their students are doing when using technology. They need to ask themselves about the thinking that students are doing as they use technology and encourage higher level thinking activities. An understanding of these frameworks may help school leaders understand that teachers may be in different places and that teachers may need additional time and support to move beyond beginning stages. Teachers would also benefit from knowing that they may move through stages. Knowledge is power.