I think I know why I don’t like Twitter. As my students and close friends know, I love long arguments over philosophical, religious, or political issues. I hate chit-chat. A series of “tweets” is just a series of disjointed pieces of chit-chat. Sometimes there’s pieces of ideas that link to a blog, but I’d rather just have the blog in my reader than have to scroll down limitless tweets to find out someone wrote more than one sentence in a row. Likewise, if people want to follow my blogs, they can just subscribe. But mainly tweets are just telling me what people are doing in a way that makes me feel like a stalker and/or a gossip hound.
It will be interesting to see how I’m supposed to use this in my class. Unless the students just follow one another, any attempt at conversation will be interrupted by random thoughts from non-classmates. If we want to have conversations between kids in different schools, there are better ways: YahooGroups for one, or we could set up a message board where people can comment on different threads, or use a chat site. But maybe there’s a different application of this tool that makes it the best choice. That hasn’t been made entirely clear yet.
In our last workshop, teachers who have been running the program so far talked about the pros and cons of blogging with students, but that’s as far as we got, and frankly it was the only useful conversation we had. I want to know all the programs that worked and didn’t so teachers new to the program don’t waste time on the less useful bits of technology. I’d really like to hear the pros and cons of using Twitter in the classroom – but not on random disjointed tweets! I suppose it develops kids’ ability to skim for information – that’s something.
If it’s a case that we’re going to use it because that’s what students are already doing, well, two things. First of all, that’s a shaky premise for incorporating technology in the classroom. What students are doing, and what we want to guide them to do are typically different things. If they’re already doing it, then we specifically don’t have to do it because they’re on board. Secondly, from loose surveys at my school it seems Twitter isn’t a teenager thing to do. According to my students, twitter is for old people. Kids are on Facebook and chat sites. But maybe that’s just a biased sample.
If it’s a case that we’re going to use it because it will be necessary to use in future jobs, it’s a pretty easy skill to pick up in on-the-job training. It’s not something they need to learn in grade ten so they can perfect it before they graduate from high school. As I said in a workshop, it seems like a huge time-suck. I’m not pleased to have yet another place to have to check every day to find out if maybe there’s something important going on that’s really necessary to know about before I can start my day.