It was just week shy of their final exams, students were in the ‘maths zone’ and were firing questions as rapidly as machine gun fire in the height of battle. Nearing the end of one day, I decided to take the maths to twitter.
I debated for a number of hours about whether to use my existing twitter handle @ezka29, or whether to create a new one.
Here is the debate as it wagered in my head…Well one twitter handle would be much easier to deal with, that I don’t have anything to hide or gain personally from keeping them separate. I am me and am professional always. Whilst for me personally one account would be more manageable there is a slight benefit to be gained by keeping them separate. Firstly, that it would be easier for my students to not be bombarded with all my other tweeting interests, whilst some could be interesting and beneficial to them even, keeping a separate account that is targeted towards a specific goal seemed far more purposeful. Secondly, the other 300+ followers on my normal handle probably didn’t need to be bombarded with random maths questions, tips and reminders specific to our units. And so @erin_hc was born!
I created a twitter profile, shared it with the students and started tweeting lots of mathy goodness.
A quick search yielded 6 of my students and told them to spread the word, including the creation of two specific hash tags for our units.
#mm2_hc and #sm2_hc
And so it began, a wonderful story about learning maths with a teacher at hand almost 24/7.
Working into the first night, it was quick and simple for me to answer questions as they arose from my students, I didn’t find it an imposition at all, in fact using tweetdeck, it made it really simple for me to engage with both my professional conversations about quality teaching, blended learning or apps for mathematics whilst still answering questions of my students. The students seemed to like the idea as well,
Eventually the real maths started, I threw out some questions via twitter (through instagram), and students responded via twitter
Then they started asking me their questions…
I even started producing very quick little videos to answer questions that I couldn’t explain in 140 characters.
At the same time I was also marking their assignments, how about this for a quick way to give feedback.
All in all, I think I have started something that I will pick up again next year. Students responded well, and within 2 weeks I had nearly half a class following me. I imagine if I started at the beginning of a year it could be a fantastic avenue for immediate feedback, recognition, questions and answers (via text, photo or video). I loved the fact that students could ask in that moment when they were studying, and could get answers nearly immediately – whether from me or from their peers or a broader twitter network.
And… not to mention the students liked it, and appreciated it.
Is twitter right for your teaching and learning? It seems to be right for mine.