Twitter Teaching

Todd Tauber wrote a piece back in March 2013 about “The Dirty Little Secret of Online Learning” in which he raises several crucial points about Education 2.0. Here are some of the quotes that stand out to me the most:

  • twentieth century instructional methods just don’t work as well for busy, distracted 21st-century learners.
  • especially for non-traditional students, is that learning has to fit in between life and work.
  • digital learning needs to become much more mobile, personal and social. That may sound obvious, but it’s apparently not. At last count, for example, only 34% of college faculty are using social media for teaching.

Wait. What?!

Yes, I’m confused by that low percentage. I understand faculty resistance to anything new, especially anything online. I’m going to use Twitter as my example application.

It’s popular. It’s widely used by college students. Still, I suspect that some professors see Twitter and other social media as free-for-all spaces full of bad lolcat grammar, but when you don’t even know what an lolcat is, can you really judge?

Twitter is about quick connectivity. I have to pick and choose my words carefully to get thoughts across in just 140 characters. I share links about job opportunities and current events relevant to my courses; I retweet university announcements. I pose a question, and I get answers (or not). I send out reminders about class assignments. In a series of short exchanges, I can sort out a student’s confusion about an assignment. I’ve found that students are more likely to respond to a direct message on Twitter than an e-mail query. Twitter also is keeping me in touch with alumni who announce their acceptance into graduate school or new jobs.

“That’s not teaching,” you might protest. I’ll argue that it is, for the 21st century college instructor. Teaching extends beyond the classroom. If students are living on social media, why aren’t we at least renting property there, too?

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