Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Twitter gives shy students a voice

Distractions seem to be everywhere, with students of younger and younger ages having access to internet-enabled devices, even when they’re in the classroom. But for many ICT evangelists, mobile technology is not inhibiting students’ focus in class but instead helping to raise engagement and enhance teaching and learning.

Enrique Legaspi, a middle school teacher in Los Angeles is one such proponent. After attending a seminar in San Francisco on the uses of social media, he began to trial examples of real-world best practice within his own classroom.

Since initiating the digital scheme he has encouraged students to BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), enabling each student to connect to the school’s internet. If they cannot supply their own device then they have access to a desktop in the classroom.

In an interview with CNN, Legaspi’s class were studying World War I, and as he asks the class questions, students tweet the answer, complete with lesson-specific hashtags. If he broadcasts a video in class, students are asked to tweet their feedback − all responses are displayed on their class Twitter feed, which is projected onto the classroom’s whiteboard.

According to Legaspi, Twitter has an extremely positive response when integrated within the classroom, helping students engage more in lesson activities and supporting  those who lack confidence. The social tool specifically helps students find their voice, typically those who are more resistant to participating in group discussions.

For Legaspi, ‘Twitter has become a vehicle for more impactful discursive work and while it has had a more dramatic effect on students who are introverted or not as confident as others, it has also differentiated my instruction, helping me to become a more effective teacher.’

The primary goal for the implementation of this digital web tool is to raise class participation but for many of the students it has had a wider impact, extending beyond the classroom.

Most of the learners at Hollenbeck Middle School, a state school in East Los Angeles, come from low-income families and Legaspi says it proves that any school could incorporate social networking into their curriculum.

If you’ve begun to use social media in your teaching practice then share your experiences...