Feedback flows multiple ways. Here, I’m focusing on feedback from students to teachers/lecturers. And I’m focusing on two types. Active feedback, where students give feedback on specific points, and passive feedback, where the transparency of twitter, and curation artefacts, allow you to glean insights into what;s happening for students as you engage with their streams.
Dr Monica Rankin on using Twitter in the classroom
Active feedback – Twitter as a backchannel, forum, or poll
This can be done in several ways. You can setup a twitter poll, to collate answers from a particular question or poll during, or after class. You can ask students a particular question about the topic, lesson, resources or context. You can set upa poll, or a hashtag to ask them whgat went well, or badly oin the lesson. You can set up twitter office hours so your students can cath you live on twitter for a q and a or for assistance.
The advantages are, it’s easy, instantaneous, and quick. But do be careful. As the feedback is both public (unless your students DM you) and linked to their identity, the takeup on this avenue may be quite low in some circumstances. Many studenys may prefer twitter for a short question , or a quick answer, but may prefer email for conversations they want a record of, or anonymous feedback if you are elicitng their criticism or experience of a course, institution, or class.
This is probably where twitter will be of greater help. If your students tweet aspects of their classes, or their project work, if they livetweet notes and curate them, if there is a backchannel during class, or you have a hashtag where students can access help from you, other teachers, or other students, then you have a rich vein of material to mine for data about the topic, your students, and how things are going for them.
Diane Laurillard has a theory, the conversational framework, describing the feedback loop between students and teachers, teachers and students, and students and students. For her, the feedback is both face to face, and online, depending on her blend of the class. And all forms of feedback are useful. Students feedback to students. Teachers to students,,and students to teachers, and the more transparent a learners thinking is, to other students and the instructor, the more informed the feedback is. Digitasl media allow huge transparency, and detailed contextualised feedback, due to their transparency, and their accessible nature.
Part of Laurillard’s feedback involves teachers having access to students reflections. Their reflections on their own work. Their reflections on the work of others. Their reflections o their meetings with teachers, on peers comments on their ideas, projects and thoughts, their assessment of their own progress, and their assessment of the material, advice and assessments they get from their teachers.
The fact that digital formats allow teachers to access all of these reflections is an immensely powerful tool. When I went to college, email accounts were things your university gave you if you had a valid research reason. Twitter and Facebook didn’t exist. Tutorials, lectures, and coffee table conversations after class were the extent of the reflective process.
Digital reflections allow you to see the entire process. They let the lecturer sit down at the post seminar coffee table with everyone who has the conversation digitally. They let you see the note taking process unfold for your students. You get to see their concepts form as they take shape online.
You get to see what went well in class. What didn’t. What examples and teaching points helped form concepts, and what ones hindered. You get to see where people need more help, and where they need less. You get to give feedback on concepts as they are being formed. This is the essence, in some ways, of Laurillard’s Conversational framework. You get to access the conceptualisations of your students as they form, and that access allows you to tailor your next set of lectures, tutorials, or projects to the insights into their needs this has allowed you to gain. You can identify troublesome concepts, and feed that knowledge in to your lesson planning.
It’s a way for your students to, consciously and unconsciously, provide you with the formative feedback that can help develop a more targeted, apt, and needs appropriate teaching practice.
Digital media can help make your students inner workings transparent to you in ways that were either difficult, or impossible in conventional ways.
Twitter, and curation tools, can be a large part of that process.
Sci Ed blog, has a great post on implementing Twitter in the classroom, and the transparency it gave to students thought processes, and the insights it allowed.
The New York Times has an article on educators using Twitter as a backchannel in their classes.
Ricahrd Byrne’s five reasons to use a backchannel in class.
Dr Mocica Rankins assessment of her classroom twitter use including pros, cons, limitations and suggestions for best practice.
Derek Bruff has an article – Backchannel in Education, Nine Uses – which is worth a loook. He’s also gathered several of his Education Bachchannel articles together on this page which has plenty of depth and ideas.