For the last year, I’ve been working on how to use twitter in my instruction. A couple of months ago, I tried doing an asynchronous twitter chat with one of my classes. It went ok – people participated (it wasn’t required), but I didn’t like I how I set it up. It ended up being too focused how quantity and less on quality. So I revised it, and it went much better.
These are the exact directions I gave my students:
1. Tweeting begins Monday, 2/29 at 8:00 am.
2. Tweeting ends on Monday, 3/7 at 8:00 am.
3. On 2/29, 3/2, and 3/5 I will release one question at 8:00 am. Questions will be numbered Q1, Q2, and Q3.
4. You can respond to (or ignore) any question during the week.
5. When you respond, start the tweet with A1 (if responding to Q1), A2 (if responding to Q2) and so on.
6. Hashtag will be #[course number]chat; all questions will be released under this tag,
How To Respond
1. Think of this as more of a chat and less of a posting of tweets. Chats are meant to be conversations around an issue.
2. You can, and should, tweet your thoughts and share relevant information.
3. You should also talk to each other. Remember to use @(person’s name) to ask them a question or make a statement that you want to direct their attention to. Some useful links that can help are here and here.
I will award XP based on overall participation:
- Participate with three or more tweets for six or more days and receive a base of 1000 XP
- Engage in sustained and interactive participation for six or more days and receive an additional 8000 XP
- Sustained and interactive participation means you do more than posts links or make statements. While you can, and should do these things, it also means that you talk to others who are participating and actively engage them and engage with them in some fashion.
- Do all of these things and receive a bonus 2000 XP
Points to Make
First, I only released three questions with this chat. I wanted some questions to guide our discussion, but I didn’t think it was necessary to have a new question every day (recall that you can schedule tweets with Twuffer which is free). I was hopeful that by having fewer questions we would be more focused on having a discussion.
Second, I did provide a baseline of tweets for participation. Three or more tweets for six days would get you a flat out 1000 XP. The point about sustained and interactive participation is a bigger one. I did not quantify this. I am not sure it can be quantified and, if it could, I’m not sure that it’s worth it. Do you want to try to count up whatever it means to be sustained and interactive in a twitter chat? I don’t, and I don’t want my students focusing on counting. They need to be mindful of their participation, yes, but they don’t need to be hyper-focused on counting.
Did It Work?
Yes. Overall, things improved and we experienced more of a discussion that a posting of tweets. About 50% of the students participated, and around 25% got the full points for being sustained and interactive. Again, this wasn’t required. Points earned did count towards their grade.
I did see students talking back and forth to each other in addition to sharing tweets and retweeting items (by their classmates and others outside of class). I was good with that.
I graded this in a very simplistic format. First, I listed off the days of the chat. Then I noted who participated on what days. I checked off first if they hit the three tweet mark. Then I skimmed to see if and how they participated beyond the three tweet minimum. I didn’t have any issues deciding if participation was sustained and interactive or not. It was pretty obvious. No one questioned their grade, and I do believe grading was fair.
I’ve been stuck on quantifying things with twitter chats. These revised directions moved me away from that, but I think I could move further. I think my issue is that I am the one who, at the end of the day, is looking to make the case that students did/did not participate. In the future, I’m going to shift this back on to them. I’m going to be working on writing directions in such a way that they need to show they not only participated but learned something from the chats themselves. I’ll share those with you when they get developed and implemented.
Overall, I think having these week long chats now and then is a good thing. I would not have them every week because I think it would wear students down (and me too). But I could see doing them two-three times a semester. If you are doing them or plan to, let me know how it goes for you!