As someone in the late 30s with a family to support, I have long given up trying to be cool or trendy. So I do not use an application just because it is in fashion. This said, I can confess that I am rather late to the use of twitter. Yet I have found it has potentials for education, as it has in many other spheres of lives.
Today’s Chronicle of Higher Education, however, published a rather negative article about the use of twitter. But the comments seem to be more insightful than the article itself and some users show greater sophistication in framing the question from a “yes-no” one to a “how, where, when” type of question. One reader wrote:
Why is it that every discussion about new media conventions has to be to the effect of “Twitter: Yes or No?” And why is it that when we confront a Web-based reporting tool we don’t understand, we write it off as an affront to the good-ol’-days values in journalism that are often just an ideallized version of the past? I had a professor who made us use Twitter for a journalism class, and I made fun of him relentlessly for it. Now, I’m twittering with my foot in my mouth because it’s proven to be a great reporting tool. When used right, it’s not about narcissism, or the proliferation of unverified information; it’s about engagement. As a campus beat blogger, I’ve posted to Twitter a number of times saying something like “Hey, I just found out [X], does anybody know anything else about this?”
Substitute journalism with teaching, you get similar conclusions. As a tool, Twitter can be used as a part of the teaching process, not as a replacement of teaching in its original sense. As I learn more about such uses in education, I’ll keep writing about it, but here is one quick way to integrate it in the course.
As I learned from a recent session at the Bbworld 09 Conference, you can use it to provide quick update to the class if you are in situations where you want to record and quickly share updates. For instance, you are a professor away from town in a conference, and you are teaching an online course. You try to broadcast about the latest topics or resource or people you learn about that might be relevant to your class. And you don’t want to log in to your Blackboard course to go through the cumbersome process of adding such announcements. As a matter of fact, you might have only an iPhone to do such updates. Twitter would be a good tool for that. You can embed your twitter updates in the course without necessarily wanting students to follow you on twitter. Here is how you can do it:
First, obtain the twitter widget code:
- Log in to your twitter account;
- Replace the URL in the address bar with http://twitter.com/downloads;
- Go to widgets;
- Select “Other” and click “continue”;
- Select “HTML widget” and click “continue”
- Customize (number of tweets, etc.)
- Copy the code;
Now, here is how to embed the widget in your course:
- Go to your blackboard course;
- Go to the folder where you want to place the widget;
- Click on “edit view”;
- Click on “add item”;
- Click on the “<>” symbol to bring out the html toggle mode;
- Replace the existing code by pasting the twitter widget code you just copied;
- Save the item.
Now you’ll have a twitter update in your course content area like this:
Like any other Blackboard items, you can selectively release it or delete it as just another item.
Similarly, you can embed such code in your other sites, if you are allowed to edit the HTML codes.
Note: Your twitter will need to be on the public timeline for this to work. By default most twitter accounts are like this. In other words, you will need to have the box beside”