Last week, I wrote about having an extended twitter chat with my students. This week, I wanted to follow up with what I learned from it. Keep in mind that the chat was not required, and I did not publicize it to my students beyond posting an announcement about it on twitter. There was a link they could follow to access directions (see last week’s post for the directions).
Six students participated to varying degrees. Four students participated all six days. One student participated for five, and one for just the first three. Combined, they tweeted 141 times – an average of 24 tweets per person – or four a day over six days. That’s not too bad.
What I Noticed
Students typically came on and did all their tweets at once in a row. For example, if a student had 10 tweets for a given day, those were usually stacked on top of each other. So I’m guessing that for most of them they came in, read the question, and then responded X amount of times, and then left.
Initially, students were tweeting what they thought. However, as the week went on students began to link more to outside sources. Students did not interact with each other. Now, to be fair, this could have been a function of the directions. What I encouraged in my directions was for students to tweet responses in relation to a question. I did not encourage them to interact with each other. I’m not even sure to what extent they read what others tweeted about. I am sure they read some of it – but most likely they read whatever was at the top of the feed if they read anything (I’m guessing).
Questions I Have
I like the idea of having an extended twitter chat during the week. I don’t think we need to do it every week – particularly for a class that meets F2F every week. If this was an online class then I might do this every week or every other week.
The question, for me, becomes how do I get students to engage in more of a chat without getting overly prescriptive with the directions? When it came time to assign XP for the chat, I found it to be easy. I identified everyone who participated first. Then, I went through and counted how many tweets they provided in a day. Noting days was easy because I released a new question every morning at 8:00. So a day was what happened between questions. Once I had the tweets counted I assigned points. This took maybe 20 minutes to do.
However, assigning points was easy because it was based on number of tweets in a given day. I didn’t get into things like if you spoke to another student and started a thread in twitter. And obviously, that’s ideal. I can come in (and I did now and then) and make a comment to a student, and that comment would be acknowledged, but how do we push past this and make it an actual conversation?
When I have chats in a bounded time frame – that are live – I find this to be much easier. People are addressing the question and addressing each other. It functions a lot more like a real conversation. Overall, I think we had a good start here, but I’d like to push on this a bit more. Maybe the next step is to move beyond counting (counting kind of sucks and promotes volume which isn’t always bad but isn’t always great either).
I’m wondering if the next step is to have an extended chat around a central question for a set number of days. My course has a central question for each session, and so we could use one of those. Take the question, chat about it, and then create a representation of what you learned via storify. This would include tweets your classmates did and tweets that were relevant on the topic but that came from others. That wouldn’t necessarily force interactions on twitter, but it could be more engaging. It moves us away from counting.
That’s not to say this first chat was bad. I actually might keep something like it in place for the future as a warm-up kind of activity. It’s potentially a good introductory quest for twitter. I’m going to go think on this some.