in Education

I’ve started using Twitter with my pupils…

Twitter birdMy Year 11 (15-16 year old) History groups – the ones who blog, can use a wiki (until Wikispaces became unavailable/unusable through the school network), use Google Apps for Education and on occasion submit YouTube videos instead of essays are now Twittering.

It’s about time: I’ve been talking about doing this for over a year now, and even suggested 3 different ways Twitter could be used in the classroom. So, over at my new (Google Sites-powered) Y11 History revision wiki I’ve shown my pupils (in great detail) how to go about signing up for their own Twitter accounts.

Usually, Twitter’s a fairly open-ended thing, with each user as a node on a (potentially) huge network. ‘The network’ is actually a series of larger and smaller sub-networks which are linked together by ‘bridge’ users. A little like a large wireless network, in fact. :-p

Twitter network (image credit)

But that’s not how I wanted to use Twitter with my students. Not yet, anyway. I had intended to use the promising-looking Edmodo but, after discussions with Jeff O’Hara discovered it wouldn’t be ready until after my Year 11s go on study leave. I need a closed network, at least at first. At the moment – and during this trial period whilst they’re revising for examinations – I want something like the situation exemplified by this image that I included in that blog post last year:

Twitter - Scenario 1

So far, each group has spent one lesson in the ICT suite making sure their @mrbelshaw.co.uk Google Apps for Education accounts work, getting acquainted with the new revision wiki and signing up for Twitter. The test posts from myself to their mobile devices go ahead this week and we shall hopefully iron out any problems next week.

Issues so far:

  • I wanted to have a separate Twitter account for each group. However, as I can only link my mobile phone to one Twitter account this was not a good solution. I’ve therefore been forced to have one account that will be used with both groups.
  • Putting +44 in front of their mobile numbers and missing off the zero caused some problems, even amongst the more able and digitally-literrate pupils who read all my instructions!
  • Network connection issues and Javascript error messages due to school-based problems.

Hopefully this will tie in with a Becta/Historical Association-funded project of which I’m an associate member. More on that and how my pupils get on with Twitter next week! :-D

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  1. This all sounds very promising Doug, I can't wait to see how it all goes, I've wanted to try doing something like this for ages.

    I almost got myself sorted with using Pownce to get pupils to share groupwork with themselves and me, in a way similar to your 2nd twitter scenario – pownce allows for you to group your contacts into something akin to mailing lists, but then my timetable changed and I lost the only class it would have been feasible with – scunner!

  2. Good luck with this, Doug. I tried this with my sophomores last semester, and was foiled on one front by school/home browsers’ inability to deal with Captcha (during account creation) and what I’m presuming (perhaps wrongly) was Javascript in accessing the site in general. That, along with one or two other pretty major stumbling blocks, put an end to my use of Twitter, and I’ve been too busy with other technological (and not-so-technological) pursuits to re-introduce it to my current students.

    Will your kids be using this primarily on their mobiles, or will they access Twitter via desk/laptops as well? I’m interested to see if they find one medium more engaging/useful than another.

  3. @Stuart: Thanks for reminding me about Pownce. It may be a better option, but I’ll have to investigate whether the advertising on the site is suitable.

    @Nick I’m looking forward to seeing how you use it with your girls. :-)

    @Damian Although I’ve been very specific about how I want it set up, I’m fairly open as to how it can be used. I tend to find that they use things in a slightly different way than I originally envisaged anyway! ;-)

  4. Lisa, you absolute leg-end! This is exactly what I need. I'll produce a graphic to illustrate how it works in a subsequent post, but it's basically:

    1. Teacher sets up account for students to 'follow' (e.g. mrbhistory)
    2. Teacher uses their standard Twitter user account to send a direct message to the account being used with students (e.g. dajbelshaw sends direct message 'd mrbhistory Get some revision done!')
    3. Students receive message.

    The great thing about this is that it's transparent to the students and I get to continue using mobile tweets to my standard Twitter account! :-D

  5. Doug…I am looking at twitter for my classes as well. I am considering using GroupTweet so that they can tune in to just our conversation (I know that it misses the larger network…but they are just 7th graders!)