Last week my students suggested we should move away from TodaysMeet and try Twitter. Today was the 2nd week of using it and it’s interesting to compare the two programmes, particularly in light of observing and interacting with my students.
Personally, I quite like TodaysMeet. I’ve explained why in previous blogs (here and here) so I won’t bore you with the details again. Suffice to stay I wasn’t particularly keen on the move to Twitter as I felt we were in a good ‘groove’ with TodaysMeet. However, the students wanted to give it a go so fair enough.
The first issue was ensuring all students created a professional twitter account using their university email address. I needed to reiterate that this was linked with their professional persona and that comments needed to reflect this.
The students decided the easiest thing to do would be to follow me (and for me to follow them) on Twitter. This would allow all of us to see each others’ tweets without the need for a hash tag. These accounts were set up specifically to be used in classes at the University and that others outwit our class wouldn’t be linked so this alleviated my concern about all of the students (and my) linked friends getting a plethora of—what would be to them—unintelligible tweets.
The next issue was finding a programme which would display the tweets large enough to be read from the projector. The only programme I could find which seemed to do the trick was Twitterfall. This seemed perfect until I realised it was very slow at publishing the tweets and, at times, didn’t seem to update itself. Perhaps it’s the connection in this particular building but I’m not convinced. I ended up just showing the main Twitter page at http://www.twitter.com. It wasn’t nearly as good, in my opinion. However, the students didn’t seem to be too bothered about the tweets not projecting as nicely as I wanted them to. They were more comfortable using Twitter and they liked the fact their conversations were threaded/connected and also that they could see only their own tweets.
The students did seem to engage a bit more with Twitter, possibly due to being more comfortable with it. I’m still not convinced that it has merit over TodaysMeet for our use in lectures and tutorials but the fact students are able to view only their own tweets is the winning variable here, I think.
The one issue that I had, though, was trying to figure out how I could use Twitter with all four year groups. Twitter only allows one account per email address. This wasn’t a problem for the students but it is a problem for me. I didn’t want my tweets with one year group being published to the other year groups. I also didn’t really want to create four bespoke gmail accounts.
The solution was to use one gmail account and the + symbol. So, when creating my new Twitter account for my 1st year students, I used my gmail account but added +year1 at the end of the email address (e.g., firstname.lastname@example.org). For the 2nd year students, my twitter account was linked to email@example.com — and similarly for years 3 and 4. All of these email addresses come to me—Google doesn’t see them as separate accounts!
I then created filters in Google so that any message to +year1 would go into a specific folder. It was a bit of a pain setting it up but it wasn’t too time-consuming and it wasn’t too onerous.
So we’ll use Twitter for the rest of the term, despite my earlier plan about waiting until next term. We’ll see which programme the students prefer.
I just wish I could find a decent way to present the tweets like I can with TodaysMeet. Any ideas anyone?