If you can’t beat Generation Smartphone, join them. Many media-savvy teachers have found that using Twitter can actually help enrich their lectures. Take Chris Lazarski’s public policy class at Wauwatosa West High School in Milwaukee. As the AP reports, the teacher uses Twitter to promote dialogue about current events. For example, after a lecture on zero-tolerance policies in high school, he had his students tweet their reactions. Some students tweeted at industry experts, others retweeted articles that shared their opinions.
You might buck at the idea of giving students more time with their phones, but if used correctly, social media can have a whole host of benefits. Students learn the responsibilities of having an online presence at an early age. The #hashtag feature means that anyone in the world with a Twitter handle can join in on the discussion. Twitter can also help shy students who don’t like raising their hands in class find their voice, 140 characters at a time.
Lazarski takes part in the “Do Now” program from San Francisco-based TV station KQED that features weekly Twitter-friendly topics such as elections, politics, and international news. The growing program is now used by more than 120 teachers in California, Oregon, Kentucky, Texas, Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, West Virginia and New York.