Using Twitter in the Classroom to Facilitate Discussion

Using Twitter to Enhance Discussion in the Composition Classroom

I started with Twitter in the spring semester of 2012. I invited students to create accounts so that we could use them along with classroom discussion. We talked about privacy and potential problems with going public with writing, and I told the students that they might have a good reason for not wanting to use social media. One student shared a horrific story of Facebook identity theft and harassment. I also noted that I sometimes consider abandoning my online life, and that I’d enthusiastically support any student who wanted to skip the social media component of the class. We all, I thought, would benefit from some powerful voices warning about the dangers of being too digitally connected.

Twitter, NCTE, discussion, social media, pedagogy

Even though I was worried that there would be students who would see my offer as a way to get out of some of the classwork, all of my students signed up for Twitter.  I think there were less than five who already had an account.  One or two of the students had internships during which it was their primary job to Tweet and write Facebook posts.

Here was my starting place: in addition to doing our regular, go around the room, sharing to begin each class session, the students would also Tweet a highlight of what they planned to say.  So the idea was that students would listen to the one or two students who talked AND at the same time, Tweet comments to the class or as a “reply” to one particular student.  I thought of this as a kind of transparent note-taking process.  It used to be I’d write down golden lines of something someone said or jot down a question I had for later, but with Twitter, these notes could instantly be put up on the screen for everyone to see.  Maybe we’d see from the Tweets that many writers were gravitating toward the same lines from our reading, or that the writers in the class had some of the same sorts of questions. For example, if more than one student didn’t understand what I meant when I said student work should strive for “intellectual ambition,” perhaps our discussion could dig in on that feature of my expectations for their work.

In the coming blog posts, I’ll share how my idea worked, what I learned, and what I plan to do differently in the Fall of 2012. If you’ve used digital texts in the classroom, I hope you’ll join in the conversation.  Have you thought about how social media might impact classroom communities? Have you used Twitter in your classroom? If this article interested you, I hope you’ll consider signing up for periodic updates by typing your email in the upper left hand corner of this page.  Thanks!

 

First Year Composition Students Talk Writing Into ePortfolios

Each semester at St. John’s University in New York, the First Year Composition Program hosts a conference to celebrate the work of the students. In this panel, Prof. Torg introduces his course which includes the creation of writing territories, a hybrid research project called the Scholarly Personal Narrative, a documentary film, and a final ePortfolio completed via Digication software.  The students discuss their work, much of it completed in digital spaces, with professors Roseanne Gatto, David Farley, Amanda Moulder, and Tara Roeder.  The student Daniella focused on speech pathology while Richie focused on the art of songwriting and the promotion of his band.  Topics discussed include public and private writing, ePortfolios, YouTube, Facebook, songwriting, vinyl, and illegal downloading.
Click the play button below to listen or download the podcast from iTunes at the Prof. Torg Read, Write, and Teach Digital Book Club.
[audio http://traffic.libsyn.com/thetorg/Coming_to_Writing_Spring_2012_audio.mp3]

Google+ for You?

In November, I presented at this conference called the Blogworld & New Media Expo.  They have what is called a virtual ticket, and I’m working my way through some of the sessions and taking notes.

Google+ Torgerson

Chris Brogan and Guy Kawasaki did a presentation on Google+, a social media platform (is that what you call it?) that I’ve largely ignored until now. I set up my profile. I know a couple of good friends are on there.  I check in to see what they’ve posted lately.  That was about it.

Guy says Facebook is for friends and family and Google+ is for those who share your passion.  He says the first thing I ought to do is to search for key words that describe my passion.  Okay, item learned #1:  I can search for key words on Google+.  I can’t do that on Facebook, right?  So I try searching by “writing” and “teaching” and what do I find?  TENURE-TRACK POSITION IN CREATIVE WRITING (FICTION) AT THE UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH DAKOTA.  It was the second post.  I hadn’t thought about job openings being on Google+.  It would be a certain kind of writer and teacher to find such a post on Google+ as opposed to the pages of The Writer’s Chronicle, right?  Some universities would never post on Google+ and some would most want to find future teachers and writers there.  That’s my guess.  Got an opinion?

Chris says you can click into your circles and just see posts from that circle.  So I could have a “writing” circle and a “basketball coach” circle and take only a look at those things when I want to.  He also says to try  FindPeopleOnPlus.Com.  There, you could not only search by someone’s name–William Torgerson–but also by key words such as “writer.”  Chris says he found 87 farmers.  He plays Texas Hold’em with his dad on Google+.

There’s something called Hangout where you can get together online via video.  I can see possibilities for writing groups or classes to meet virtually. Okay, I’m convinced to do more on Google+.  Maybe tonight I’ll take a look at organizing my circles.

You can read more about Guy Kawasaki here.

And Chris Brogan here. 

Are you on Google+?  If you are, what do you do there?