Monday, February 25, 2013

Twitter in the ESL Classroom

Twitter is a versatile tool that can shape education, and even our lives. A seemingly trivial and mundane platform, this website allows users to "tweet" a short snippet regarding their lives. The uninitiated internet user might not see the charm in this technology, but upon further inspection, there may be much more under the surface.

As Steven Johnson, author of NY Times article How Twitter Will Change the Way We Live writes, Twitter possesses an "unsuspected depth" where users can get a "strangely satisfying glimpse of their [friends'] daily routines." This website allows individuals to see what is going on in others' lives, without having to physically ask for the information. Moreover, this website runs alongside a long tradition of human interaction, namely, orality. Individuals can communicate and have their voices heard from the convenience of their own homes!

Imagine the educational implications. Students can create twitter accounts to emulate historical figures, and interact according to the context of the corresponding historical period. Or perhaps students can follow important figures in the field of science and track advances in the discipline. The use of twitter can be likened to that of a condensed blog, wherein users can post 140-character messages and link to various articles, pictures, videos, and so on.

A recent article by avid Twitter user Shea Bennett entitled What I Have Learned In 4 Years And 1,180 Articles About Twitter points out the rich impact Twitter has on modern society. Social platforms such as Twitter are closing the gap between the far corners of the earth and we are seeing a digitized society that has instant access to a plethora of information. Bennett warns against some of the maladies that can come from Twitter, such as immodest browsing, and the tendency for students to come off task. However, he writes that the benefits greatly overweigh the drawbacks. Students are forging important skills that will be valuable in post-secondary study and in the workplace.

Evan Williams and Biz Stone of Twitter

1 comment:

  1. I like your suggestion about students following important leaders in certain fields to track the changes that occur in that discipline. Sounds promising.