The Pros, Cons and Uses of Twitter for eLearning
In the UK and other countries there are justified fears about negative effects of various social media with students under the age of 18. On top of the distraction it provides there are more dangerous issues such as cyberbullying, privacy issues and the potential for abuse. However, there are some simple rules that can be followed to make Twitter a useful addition to a school’s and teacher’s toolset.
The simplest method is to use Twitter simply as a communication channel to publicise school and college activities, or to remind students of important dates. With this you just set up a standard twitter account, promote the name and remember NOT to follow any of your students. This prevents any issues there may be from direct messages or receiving unwanted updates of students. Remember, students and parents can always message a you, even if neither of you are following each other.
To start using Twitter with a class for the purposes of improving the learning experience, the use of something like Hootsuite and sensible uses of search terms will improve things imeasurably. With Hootsuite you can schedule updates in advance to save time, setting up homework reminders for a whole term for example. The integration with ow.ly allows you to post shortened links easily, get reports on the number of clicks (very important) and allow you to post documents.
Although it may seem sensible to set up a private account to try to create a closed learning network, there should be a very strong reason to do so with students under the age of 18, and also more than one person should have access to the account for staff and student protection.