And, when I don’t understand something, I have three of four people with area expertise who might be able to explain it to me. And, occasionally, my head of department tweets an answer to a question I might have.
140 characters is just enough to think a thought in
As twitter is a short form media, I find I have to curate the tweets to make a good set of notes.
Curation is a key part of digital learning, and of using twitter constructively. Curation, is, essentially, collecting information together into one place, and then using your expertise, experience and current needs to asssess, sort, categorise and select what you need, while adding the insights this process generates, and the insights of others to add more value. In ypour note taking process, you curate your own tweets, those of your fellow students, and the resouirces,m questions, ideas and answers they tweet, as well as the occasional tweet from a head of department, or the lecturer themselves.
Storify is a free service that lets you collect, publish, and add commentary to tweets (and other things) you find online. Your own tweets, other people’s tweets. You can organise them into a timeline, add your own comments, observations, links, and input, and other people can also comment to.
Revisiting my notes, collecting them into a Storify, and annotating them with my comments, thoughts, with additional ideas, resources and links helps me get more from the lecture than I might otherwise. This critical revisiting, where I have to sift through the tweets (mine, others, my lecturers, complete strangers) and select specific tweets, as well as the ease of adding comments and links, makes the curating process richer than my own note taking practices might otherwise be.
Plus I won’t lose them on the bus on the way into college. They are on my storify account. Accessible anywhere, anytime, from any device.
How it’s useful
I find it useful in three main ways.
It forces me to be more attentive and critically engaged in class. Tweeting is a short and summary form, so to livetweet a lecture, you need to summarise, sift and sort as you go. You need to assess, think about and analyse things in order to summarise them. At the end of a class I livetweet, I am tired, because I have spent the entire time summarising, processing, sorting and deciding. And adding my own thoughts, ideas, and resources, and exchanging them with others.
I benefit from the insights of others. When others livetweet the same class, and we share a hashtag, I get to see their insights, choices, assessments, and the resources they share. They answer my questions, and share resources, links and insights I would not have on my own.
I’m forced to revisit material. if I want to save my notes, I need to curate them. Quickly. Because twitter gets rid of them. It can be difficult to find tweets after anything more than a week. This is, actually, beneficial. Research shows that we are much more likely to remember our lectures if we revisit mateiral within 24 hours. And we are much much more likely to remember it in ten years if it is meaningful to us. Curating my tweets involves active engagement. I sift, select, deselect, and, because of the nature of tweets, from other streams, I think critically about what has been said, and I add value to it with my insights, ideas, arguments, questions and extra resources. I make things meaningful.
With a pen and an A4 pad, I may not ever open the page after I’ve written it.
Benefits for your students
Twitter allows your students to take notes, and share them, immediately. It gives you an insight into who is taking notes, and what they are saying, which, we know is key to their learning. You get to see the note-taking conversation unfold as it happens, and see inside the brains of your students and they share their conceptualisation process.
Who is taking good notes, what questions are people asking, and how good are those questions. Who is retweeting what. And, it being twitter, there is always the real possibility that experts, authors, or maybe even the person you are studying will get involved in the conversation.
There’s a really great post on sci-ed that documents the process – lots of hands on educators insight, and practical ideas, mas well as inspirational comments on how the whole project panned out…
“The results were instantaneous — it was like being plugged into every student’s brain at once. You could see who was participating, who was getting the main ideas, who was extrapolating and asking good questions, and more importantly, the students could see what their peers were thinking”
“This was something that really helped, when someone tweeted a fact and half the class also tweeted the same fact it reinforced the students that they were on the right track. I would also tweet along with them to help them see if they were on the right page. The beauty of all this was that it was all uninterrupted documentary watching. No stopping and starting, no asking what was just said, it just flowed.”
How to do it.
Agree on a hashtag. It should probably be different to the class hahstag, which you will want to keep for particular purposes. Livetweeting lectures can generate hundreds of tweets. Check the hashtag is not in use.
Spread the hashtag to the people who will use it.
To encourage livetweeting, monitor the hashtag in class, responding to questions, and monitor it out of class – feedback on tweets after the lecture will help add value and boost student participation.
Use a good curation service that is designed for twitter. I use storify for this because it can be embedded in blogs, it’s easy to use, it’s designed with twitter in mind, it allows crossposting from multiple sources (Instagram, Facebook, Youtube…), you can add comments – essential for in depth curation – and people will be informed if you quote them in your storify – a good boost for participation. But mainly I use it because it requires me to sift, sort and select, so my revisiting of notes is active, not passive. I select, I comment and summarise, I add in additional resources, and comment on other people’s links.
You will need to be familiar with the curation tool yourself, and you will need to start off small with your students. They might do project work with storify, where they curate tweets about a topic as homework you set, and present that, or curate the tweets from the class twitter discussion
Here’s that sci-ed post again - a really worthwhile read if you are wondering what kinds of positive impacts twitter can have on your classroom.
Here’s profhackers advice, again, from a hands on practical perspective, about the do’s and don’ts of livetweeting. This is more a practical run down on pluses, negatives, and useful tips.
Chris Long has a post, the Art of Livetweeting - that;s talks about the collaborative note-taking aspect of livetweeting in class, and categorises tweets according to type – something I found really useful as a way to think about the types of tweeting that might be constructive.
Christopher Wiley has a post on the advantages and disadvantages he found when he rolled out livetweeting in his classroom. More hands on, practical advice about the nitty gritty.
Storify is here, and their tour (it;s incredibly easy to use) is here.
And here’s Dr Monica Rankin, and her students, giving their perspective on how using twitter in their classroom worked for them