Twitter: 4 students 2?

Despite the following tweet:

and the amazing responses within an incredibly short time -  the wow! factor from my students who'd never seen anyone tweet before (though the site seems to be referenced on the news a lot these days) -  the fact that I could share the answer to their question as it came back to them in real time....

I still seem to be on the fence when it comes to combining learning and Twitter.

My problem with it is that there is so much "other" going on.  

I mean, who would they follow - teachers?   But the teachers are busy tweeting to their PLNs, wouldn't that become sort of weird and horribly dull after a while?

Well... they could follow other students, develop their own PLNs... but then, hmm... I guess it'd work but how would they know when the answer was the right answer?  How could they organize the information, reference it, keep track of it?

Hashtags set up on the different subjects?   

Thinking about it, I would add a twitter tracker function to my students' Ning if I knew for sure that there was someone moderating a specific hashtag, in my case one aimed at English Language Learners...but what code?  For the most part, #esl and #efl don't really mean anything to our students - wonder what would?

Random thoughts, random.



p.s. The Answer (courtesy of the British Council via Mtranslator on Twitter)

p.p.s Many, many thanks to GreatGrammarGurus:

Useful links
See Jen Vershoor's blog posting on Twitter in the Classroom

    10 Responses to “Twitter: 4 students 2?”

    • Seth Dickens says:
      February 17, 2010

      You could tell them about some of the famous people tweeting away on Twitter. Maybe there's a favourite star they'd like to follow?

      What about a hashtag other than EFL or ESL ones. #Haiti and #Iran spring to mind. Alternatively just send them to Twitter Search to look for a trending topic that interests them. Maybe they could even follow a different one for a week at a time?

      They could of course also use it to combine with another class for a bit of e-tandem-learning like my class did last year. That way they can get a bit of crowdsourcing as well as getting the opportunity to chat in two different languages (e.g. your students could find a British or US class that are learning German, half their tweets would be in English, the other half in German.)

      I'd say I'm fairly confident about the usefulness of Twitter for language learning and my colleague @ivenus in the the US seems to be too :)

      I'd say the uses of Twitter boils down to:

      Students can be more or less committed to a Twitter "project". As long as you have a majority of the class willing to participate, they can "dip in and out" of Twitter as much as they want. Other e-twinnning projects can fall on their faces if not enough students are willing to participate.

      The "small amount, but regular practice" keeps L2 in our students' minds a little further into the week, rather than doing all their homework the day before the lesson. Our students had to tweet a minimum of 3 times a week with one @ reply per week. These tweets were supposed to be on different days, too.

      If you've got a class who are interested, give it a go. Let them create their own PLN out of what they find interesting. This isn't likely to be #EFL or #ESL teachers, but there will be lots of authentic language practice in short bites for them to learn from. You offer up the suggestions, teach them how to find other interesting / useful / related people and I've no doubt that they'll find it an experience that is at least a bit of fun, if not useful and worthwhile.

      Good luck Karenne's students! Feel free to connect with me (though I'll probably bore your socks off! :D

    • Darren says:
      February 17, 2010

      I'd be inclined to let them make a list... I've just made a couple of lists for non-professional interests, one on photography and another on football. That way they could pick up a topic (professional or otherwise) and keep up with it. But I would absolutely not make it a part of a course... I'm still figuring out how to use it myself, and I honestly don't believe that the language learning potential of twitter is sufficient to push a class into doing it unless they really want to and have a clearly defined goal. From an educators point of view, building and maintaining a PLN takes time. It's personal and experimental. I talk about it with my teaching colleagues but frankly they are all doing just fine without it.. shouldn't we apply the same principles to learners?

      February 17, 2010

      Seth, one word: wow.

      Darren, one of my issues is that the authentic English - even if in 140 character bites - is too hard to understand and that might intimidate.


    • Darren says:
      February 17, 2010

      It's probably HARDER to understand in 140 character bytes!

      Seth has some very good suggestions, and it is a workable project. I just can't see myself using it myself... the restriction that makes it a novelty for proficient users of English (like teachers) seems troublesome for learners. And of all the big hitters on the internet, it is the most reliant on other tools and apps to really make it work - you could argue that it is more of a conduit for other tools than a tool in itself. Would you get as much out of it without tweetdeck,, twitpix and so on? That's a whole lot more to register with, install and learn... and for what?

      Sorry I'm such a horrible wet blanket ; P

      You know I'm the biggest techno-hating technophile on the block...

    • Tara Benwell says:
      February 17, 2010

      Great post Karenne! At EnglishClub we tried to tweet for teachers and learners (our members are both), but it was too confusing. I agree an isolated hashtag for learners would be great. I've started using the phrase "English learners" in tweets that are for them. My recent writing challenge connected one of our members to a real Olympic athlete via Twitter and Facebook. That's a success story!

    • Anne Hodgson says:
      February 19, 2010

      Boy, I saw all you teachers responding to Karenne's tweet, so I didn't chime in. I'd say with such a lively and willing alpha teacher-on-twitter community, follow one and you get them all.
      For learners I think Twitter is best as a linker to resources/ crowdsourcing, less for "creative writing".

      February 19, 2010

      Anne, I'm inclined to agree with you - except I do know that some teachers have made successful use of it (i.e. Seth) but like Darren I keep pausing... sometimes I feel like with teachers you can say go learn xyz tool and build from there and then with others, I think it can take up "too" much class time.

      Am currently using mixbook with one group and it took us a bit of time to get to the place where we're producing something - and yet the glory of that and the amazingness of our project and the emergent language coming out so completely naturally is outstanding.

      So I guess it is about having the time to get through the faff.

      Tara, what about something like #ELL -dunno, my biggest fear is the second one introduces a good hashtag which is then explained to English langauge learners all over the world, then the "marketers posing as pedagogs" will take it over and fill the stream with financial offers.

      It's not that they don't have their place but we live in such a different world from the pre-2008 TV ad marketing structure...
      dunno, dunno.

      Love your Olympic fan example! What fun!


    • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
      LASIK eye surgery says:
      February 20, 2010

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    • Tara Benwell says:
      October 17, 2010

      Not sure if you're familiar with #twinglish, but this is what many Japanese English tweeters are using to practise English on twitter. (Based on a book.) I've switched over to that one now if I tweet stuff for English learners.

      October 17, 2010

      Thanks Tara, I noticed that too earlier this week! It's a great incentive and will be following this hashtag with interest!



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