|Delivering a workshop at Aquatnet (Image: @jbaqua)|
The workshop kicked off with a very informative talk delivered by Mike Moulton of the Norwegian University of Life Sciences. Mike discussed the realities of teaching and learning in the "age of tweets", emphasising the growing importance of twitter amongst educationalists. Twitter and other social media tools, Moulton encouraged, were means of "creating trustworthy pathways through the internet".
In this respect, I was reminded of occasional responses I have received from non-tweeting academics to my use of twitter. "I don't know how you find the time to do all the tweeting", they might say or "shouldn't you be doing some proper work?".
My response to that is often: "How do you find the time not to tweet?". Social media allows you to establish a trustworthy network of contacts who are willing and able to do some of the leg-work for you. For example, my twitter network is able to
- highlight the newest research in my area
- share the latest news in my discipline
- inform me of funding opportunities, job opportunities, etc.
- allow for interaction and collaboration with others
- inform me of upcoming conferences, workshops, etc.
I'm not alone in holding those views. Recently, I posed a question to my own twitter followers:
Student or teacher, can you sum up why twitter & social media are useful TO YOU for teaching & learning in one tweet?? #scisocialmedia RT?
— Eoin Lettice (@blogscience) June 16, 2014
And got some interesting results, including:
@blogscience I like that it is short, sharp and encourages factual statement or further exploration (e.g. linking out) #scisocialmedia
— bren (@brenstrong) June 16, 2014
@blogscience gives access to thought leaders you may not traditionally be able to access
— Ali Sheridan (@SherSustainable) June 17, 2014
@blogscience Hundreds of opinions and ideas, plus a great way of seeing things you otherwise wouldn't have a chance to. #priceless
— Paul Smyth (@paultsmyth) June 17, 2014
@blogscience Mostly use Twitter for research, and by following a few top scientists in a field you get info. before it reaches journals etc.
— Martin Hodson (@MartinHodson1) June 17, 2014
@blogscience #SciSocialMedia allows me to continue to learn during my 'leisure time' + is a great tool to spark ideas + foster collaboration
— NoSiree (@cairotango) June 16, 2014
@blogscience #socmedia is Tch/learn: infinite txtbook, tchr guide, staffr:-)m, class message board, curated resources, library access pointOne use of microblogging in education that I tried to highlight in the recent workshop was the idea of 'live-tweeting' the lecture. Corey Ryan Earle has written a really useful blog post on this idea based on his experience teaching a history course to nearly 400 students at Cornell University. Earle found that encouraging the students to tweet during the lecture encouraged active engagement, reduced distractions and provided instant feedback to the lecturer. Live-tweeting is something I'll be introducing in my first-year biology lectures this year. With over 400 students enrolled, it will be interesting to see whether it boosts interaction with the course material. I'll let you know how it goes!
— Al Smith (@literateowl) June 16, 2014