Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The more I get involved with Twitter, the more I long for a classroom where I could actually put what I am learning to use.  I used to teach high school English, and I think the idea of creating a Twitter account for a fictional character would be really fun and educational.  Students could demonstrate an understanding of the thoughts, feelings and psychology of the character as well as keep a running account of events in a story. You could even have two or more characters interact on Twitter, perhaps creating teams within the class that would each have a character as their avatar.

I can see where students who are not particularly motivated to keep a reading log might be very happy to post a running string of Tweets about the book they are reading.  And the length limits would motivate those for whom a more lengthy entry in a reading log is overwhelming, while for others it would be an interesting challenge to express themselves in concise, cogent ways.

The reading in Richardson and Mancabelli was exciting, but also left me with concerns and questions about the roadblocks to making the transition from traditional to networked classroom.  I loved reading all the success stories of teachers who made the change and can't imagine ever going back to the way they used to teach.  I was also happy to hear them speak of the mistakes and stumbles they made along the way. However, examining the seven qualities of networked classes left me wondering about the potential for difficulties, particularly regarding transparency.

I don't think Richardson and Mancabelli truly addressed the issue of rights to privacy in a classroom where live video is streaming, for example, or when a worldwide audience gains access to the names and, to a certain extent, the thoughts, interests and aspirations of students.  I think, too, that students who know they are in a transparent situation may be self-conscious, which suppresses their contributions. Other students might unthinkingly self-reveal inappropriately or deliberately act out in response to having a global audience. As a teacher, I don't know how comfortable I would be with full transparency. Not that I have anything to hide, but it's sort of like how you feel panicy when you are driving and see a police car, even when you aren't violating traffic laws. I just don't know how comfortable I would be with the whole "Big Brother is Watching You" issue.


  1. I hadn't thought of privacy issues in that way, and you have brought up some interesting concerns. Without having experienced these varied online opportunities it's hard to imagine how students would feel about transparency and their online interactions, or even if they can truly grasp that concept. Perhaps there are already ideas out there from schools and teachers for addressing privacy concerns more specifically?

    1. I think the idea of transparency and permanency of online interactions isn't quite fully appreciated by students. My Twitter account isn't public because I don't feel comfortable with my high school students having access. Not that anything I put on Twitter is inappropriate but partly because, I don't want to see what they put on Twitter. We talked in class this week about how employers/colleges monitor Twitter and other online accounts. I know of people who have lost scholarships because of what they have posted online for anyone to see - including college recruiters. The language and descriptions of their activities would make some parents completely freak out. I wonder, how many parents monitor their teenagers accounts? I know my high school students are different than those of you with elementary age but hopefully if students start learning at a younger age, they will be more aware when they get to my classes.