A reoccurring issue with course design whether you’re face-to-face, hybrid or completely online is student engagement. Even though you think underwater basket-weaving off the coast of Tunisia is the most fascinating thing since the invention of sliced bread, students may not be as excited about it as you. They can be fickle creatures that way. So, as educators, how do we handle that?
A very common thought in modern pedagogy is to go to where the students are – their interests, they habits and behaviors, and sometimes even their physical location. Unless you’ve been living in a cave for the last 5 years, the majority of students are on some sort of social media…A LOT. According to a study published in 2013, people aged 18 – 34 spend 3.8 hours per day on social media.
So, pedagogically, how do we work with that, instead of against it? Incorporate social media into the classroom to get students excited about your course work, following news and interacting with each other and the material outside of class time.
One easy way to do that would be with Twitter. Twitter is a microblogging social media service where user’s can send short messages into the world. Users can follow world leaders like senators, representatives, secretaries of state, presidents, governors, prime ministers, etc. Users could follow religious leaders, famous people, newspapers, news networks, activists, NASA, museums, libraries, corporations, or just plain old regular people too.
In Twitter, you can categorize or tag things for future reference or to add your voice/comment to a trend.
You could create hashtag for your class or assignment, like #BUS101 or #smithsfinalproject. Then, you could encourage students in class or at home to post with the hashtag. Imagine if you did a group research project where students used hashtags to organize all the material and everyone could have access. You could have students post questions and you could answer them in class or at a later time. You could have students give answers to polls or surveys. Honestly, the possibilities are endless.
Now, you can embed a twitter feed into your Canvas class. That feed could be a person, organization, movement, etc. or it could be a hashtag feed. Why, you may ask. Because you’re bringing social media and your classwork together. You’re teaching students how to responsibly interact with social media and their school work. It even allows students who don’t have Twitter accounts to participate by following a feed. Let’s say you want your students to follow the latest information on the Oso mudslide or the latest technology. By putting the twitter feed in your class, you give students direct access to up-to-date information that you can leverage (Twitter posts happen live and in the moment, even faster than news stations and websites). And yes, you’re getting students excited about your class.
Here’s how you do it:
1. Decide what twitter feed you want in your class. You’ll need the hashtag or username. My name shows Erin Baker, but my username is @erinandelijah
2. Add the Twitter app to your Canvas classroom (you have to do it to each of your classes that you want to embed Twitter in).
- In your course, go to settings in your left hand navigation.
- Now, find the Apps tab towards the top of your page next to Navigation
- Now scroll down to find the Twitter App (or just type Twitter into the filter) and click on it.
- Now click +Add Tool
3. Now, create your page or assignment or discussion forum (based on your needs).
4. Now you’ll notice a little blue bird icon in your toolbar when you go to edit your page, discussion forum or even quiz.
5. Click on the bird and enter either the # or username of the person, group, organizations, movement, etc. and click Preview to make sure it is what you want
6. Click Embed
Welcome to a whole new world!
For more awesome info on Twitter and how other educators are using it, watch this webinar.