Can You Use Twitter For Education?

One of the most frequently asked questions about Twitter at staff development days is “Can you really use Twitter for Education and get improved learning outcomes?”

rp_Twitter-for-education.pngThe best way to answer that question is to start with some statistics:

  • When you look at the demographics of twitter users, the under 25 age group make up less than 30% of the users on Twitter
  • The largest proportion of users on Twitter are in the age group 25-54
  • When it comes to user engagement with Twitter; 21% of people with a twitter account have never tweeted.  And 85% of users tweet less than once a day.

When you compare this with the statistics of user engagement of Facebook users the difference is immediately obvious (You can see the Facebook statistics in THIS POST from earlier in the week)

In the LAST POST I explained how I think teachers can effectively use Facebook in the classroom to place their content and communication in front of their students without driving them to another source or website. But you can see from these statistics that the students aren’t necessarily going to Twitter regularly enough to see your message.

So how can you use Twitter for education?

I have seen some teachers use twitter to post quick reminders and little bits of information (remember you only have 140 characters to work with) for their students.  Some teachers use Twitter to communicate with parents as well.  I have written a post on HOW TO USE TWITTER to communicate with students and parents previously.  You can look at that post to see how to use hash tags to filter out all the ‘noise’.

If you decide to use Twitter (or Facebook for that matter) to communicate with students and parents you must be aware of your schools social media policy.  There was a case here in Australia where a teacher was scandalised in the media for posting a picture of one of her students on Twitter.  The photo was completely innocent, but the media didn’t see it that way!

In my opinion the value of communicating with the students is limited due to their lack of engagement with Twitter.  Instead I love to use Twitter to build my Professional Learning Network and find resources for my lessons.  You can read THIS POST to see the exact steps you need to follow to quickly and easily find resources relevant to the age of your students and the subject you teach.

So to wrap up these series of posts on how to use social media such as Facebook and Twitter for education; the main thing to think through is:

  • Are the students already hanging out there?
  • If I engage with the students using social media, how do I do it safely?
  • Will the use of social media in education benefit my students learning and increase educational outcomes.

If you feel its worth your time and energy then dive right in.  If not, don’t feel pressured to use them.  You can achieve just as good results (and sometimes better) when you DON’T use technology.

For those of you who would like see the statistics for Twitter use in more depth then see the following 3 links:

http://blog.nielsen.com/nielsenwire/online_mobile/teens-dont-tweet-twitters-growth-not-fueled-by-youth/

http://www.digitalbuzzblog.com/infographic-facebook-vs-twitter-demographics-2010-2011/

http://www.sysomos.com/insidetwitter/

I would love to hear your stories and wisdom about technology and specifically social media in education.  Has it worked for you?

Why are our students disengaged?

In this post I referenced a statistic that said that studies show that on average 50% of students are not engaged, 20% are actively disengaged – the reason – not interested In Dan Pinks book ‘Drive – the surprising truth about what motivates us’ he suggests that the reason they

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