There is growing evidence to support that the use of Twitter or Twitter type social media technology in the classroom can boost engagement, enable larger numbers to participate and stimulate conversation. As there are clearly benefits the debate then turns to how to use social media and especially Twitter and related technology in the classroom.
Most educators now agree that traditional style auditorium style classrooms are not the most effective learning environments as it is difficult to get engagement and very easy for shy or unwilling students to simply become bystanders.
Experiments using social media technology such as Twitter in the classroom show that students engage as they are using familiar technology and don’t need to be shown how to use as it is a technology they understand and enjoy and this combats apathy and increases participation and conversation.
Some educators in schools and universities are recognising the need to help students understand how social media works as it will be essential classroom learning in order to survive in the world of work.
However, the technology imposed limit of 140 characters of Twitter can be a limitation in the classroom and it is also difficult to attach other media such as documents, mind maps, presentations or video to a Twitter conversation.
Another downside of using Twitter in the classroom is the lack of security. Anybody on Twitter can effectively become engaged with the discussion in the classroom which is a problem if the students are under age.
Finally, the use of Twitter in the classroom also causes problems with extracting the learning from the session as there are limited search facilities in the social media technology.
So, there are tangible benefits of using Twitter in classroom and there are down sides to consider.
But what would happen if there was a new type of social media technology for the classroom that resolves these problems?
E4A has been working with educators and students to develop a new social media technology called ClassBubbles which combines presentation software, with active learning through tasks and where the students, learners or participants tweet back their responses using existing technology such as laptops, netbooks, smart phones or Ipod Touches.
ClassBubbles enables large auditoriums of learners to participate in a secure session using web based technology designed specifically for the classroom and other learning environments such as auditorium and large conference halls. There is no limit to the number of participants that could be involved in a ClassBubbles session apart from the need for the participants to be able to see the screen with the information and task pane on.
Classbubbles can be used to deliver any material and is run in a secure environment and so protects any students, learners & participants who are vulnerable or under age.
Although ClassBubbles encourages short responses, students, learners & participants can send back any digital media such as documents, spreadsheets, presentations and video etc.
With large numbers of students, learners & participants with Twitter in the classroom it would be very easy to become overwhelmed by the responses and lose track of what was said by who which would be the case if Twitter was used in the classroom. A ClassBubbles session is recorded so every response and document is stored and can be packaged up and made available to the participants. However, using social media technology in the classroom it is essential for the teacher or facilitator to be able to understand the patterns in the responses and so ClassBubbles is being enhanced to include trending and charting technology so that patterns and trends can be quickly discerned, fed back to the students, learners & participants and this can then be the subject of further discussion.
The key benefit then for educators and trainers who have large auditorium’s such as conferences and universities is that they could engage safely with their audience using the new social media technology.
ClassBubbles has been written so that it can deliver any content and as E4A is an Enterprise Education provider, a ClassBubbles session for helping students with employability has been made available free of charge for you to try.
This project has now been terminated.