For my Masters research report, I decided to focus on the potential of Twitter in Higher Education to promote critical thinking skills. Tall order, you may say ..and yes it is proving challenging…especially since the first year class I’m focussing on are first time Tweeters and the course I’ve elected to work with ends in two weeks time!! So not much time to assess real learning as I still need to get students into the practice of tweeting…..That said I’m using this blog to record random thoughts and observances as I explore this modality of teaching and learning.
The uptake , up until today, has been pretty bleak….This I ascribe to students not being active Tweeters and thus struggling to get into the tweet of things ( which flies in the face of recent studies suggesting the 21st century learner as being digitally wired and online collaborators of note ). Maybe this is a South African characteristic( after all we only boast about 55 000 of Twitter users) and thus access issues is a big culprit here. Indeed found out that though our University boasts various WIFI hotspots we don’t have this utility in the lecture halls!
Then again maybe it was the way I introduced the study, mentioning that their participation was voluntary and would have no impact on their grades …hence no one tweeted! An issue for exploring student motivation perhaps?
Today though once we had the backchannel live in the classroom , students started tweeting. Do I ascribe their participation now to the visual feedback in the classroom or to the fact that the lecturer urged them to participate by mentioning that important questions would be posted ??Mind boggles…. but wish I could have separated the variables to deduce which were the motivating factors! Anyway guess I’ll have to find this out via the questionnaire I intend for them to complete…if they will i.e:)