May 25, 2011

Tweeting to learn

Twitter in the classroom: could it work?

As a recent article in the New York Times shows, some schools are already on board with such an idea. Teachers in areas like Sioux Rapids, Iowa have been using Twitter as a means to encourage participation in class discussions. Those endorsing the system base their argument on the fact that some students are simply uncomfortable when trying to speak to their peers. If the current generations of kids have a much easier time expressing their thoughts via technology, then this system would capitalize on that.

“It would really help in discussion based classes,” sophomore C.J. Jackson said. “I think you would get a lot more kids to actually say stuff rather than not pay attention. If utilized properly it would allow maximum student perspective, and also help those students who may have good thoughts or ideas after the discussion has moved on to a different topic.”

But others are not so sure. Senior Logan Willits, who will be taking a job as a high school teacher in Kewanee, Ill. and has a Twitter account himself, sees too many drawbacks to having things like Twitter get involved in lesson plans.

“I see the benefits of using technology in the classroom but not of social networking. In my opinion the bad things that could occur outweigh the good at this point in time,” Willits said. “It could be useful since kids can see what their fellow classmates are thinking, but … it degrades personal social skills since people don’t have to talk in person. If all the communication you ever have is through Internet sites, then you are not being taught to be a proper, operating member of the society we live in.”

Though there are varying opinions on the topic, it is clear that the expansion of technology in the classroom will be an issue for many years to come. Whether approved or unapproved the increased usage of laptops, cellphones and other digital devices in schools is undeniable, and something teachers will have to deal with.

“Schools are constantly offering in-services on instructional technology and I’m sure that soon enough these will include social networks such as Twitter, Facebook, etc.” Willits said. “We are advancing as a technological society, and the teaching profession is something that has kind of has an unknown future in that way going forward.”

Jackson White
Jackson White is a senior double majoring in political science and secondary education. This is his third year as a sports editor for TKS. Over the course of the 2010-2011 academic year, Jackson worked for, writing feature stories and columns about high school and college baseball in central Illinois. Outside of the Publications Office, he is an information assistant for the Knox College Sports Information Department and a two-time all-Midwest Conference baseball player. Jackson is the recipient of five awards from the Illinois College Press Association, including two first place awards for sports game coverage and sports page design.

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