Twitter in the Classroom: A Conversation

Twitter Use in the Classroom: A Conversation between a Concerned Parent and a Teacher

By: Christina Thiel and Brad Slepicka

For ECMP 355, we were to create a mock conversation about the use of technology in the classroom.

 Photo Credit: andresmh Flickr via Compfight cc

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Parent:

Hello Miss Thiel,
I am contacting you in regards to the letter you sent home with Nicholas yesterday. In that letter, you mentioned that he would be making a Twitter account. Could you tell me more about the safety features in place behind this? I am concerned that he may come into contact with someone that would not have his best interest in mind.

Teacher:

Hello, Thank you for contacting me with your concern about the use of Twitter in the classroom.  The Twitter account will first be for the whole class. Therefore, each student will not have their own account.  The reason for this is that we have just begun a unit on digital citizenship.  Specifically, as outlined in the Saskatchewan Citizenship Education in Saskatchewan Schoolswe are discussing digital communication and digital literacy.  In terms of student safety, because this is a class account, the Tweets will be closely monitored by myself.  As part of the digital citizenship, students will learn about safety on Twitter and what to do if they notice a suspicious person on Twitter.

Parent:

Hi,

Thanks for explaining that and providing the information as to how this fits in with the curriculum. However, you still have not provided any information as to the exact safety features that will be used to ensure his safety online. Other than you monitoring the account, how will you do this? Are there privacy settings that you will be selecting? If so, what are they? Also, can explain more about the types of things that will be posted – I.e student work, pictures, announcements? You also said you will be working on digital communication. Who will the students be communicating with online? Thanks for your information.

Teacher:

Thank you for your reply. In terms of safety features, we will not be sharing personal information online.  For example, we will not share the name of our school on Twitter to protect the students’ identity.  I will ensure students know that they should not post their names, address, or phone numbers on Twitter.  To teach them this, I will model the appropriate behaviour first.  Then, we will move to having students compose their own Tweets; however, they will not post these Tweets until I have vetted them for appropriate content.  If you would like further information on protecting identity on Twitter, I recommend reading this article about online safety. 

I will also show students how to make their account private if they chose to make a personal account in the future, which means those who are not following the account cannot see the Tweets.

In terms of the types of things posted on Twitter, I will be posting student work with the student’s name and other forms of identification removed, pictures of the students working (unless they have not provided a media release form), as well as general classroom announcements.  I hope to use Twitter as a way for parents to stay connected to the classroom; that way, they are can see what their child is doing throughout the day.  Eventually, students will ease their way into composing Tweets to create a short (140 character) summary of their learning.  As explained above, these Tweets will be vetted by me prior to being tweeted.

As part of using Twitter, students will be communicating with another classroom in a different province.  I have already set this up with the teacher and therefore, I know that this is not a fake account.  Essentially, the classrooms will be pen pals over Twitter.  Twitter will obviously also be used for communication with parents.  If you have further questions, or would like clarity on any of the points, let me know.

Parent:

Hi again,

Thanks for providing all this information. This definitely helps me know more about what Nicholas will participating in class and that he will be safe. I do have one more question though. Will there be anything assigned with Twitter in terms of projects or work that he will have to work on at home? We live in a rural area and we are unable to get high-speed internet in that location. I am not sure how he will be able to keep up with his school work if this is going to be a large portion of his learning.

Teacher:

Hello,

In terms of projects or work that will be related to Twitter, there will be nothing that will have to be tweeted outside of school hours.  This also increases the safety of using Twitter in the classroom, as I am unable to see what students are doing on Twitter if they are not in the classroom.  I realize that internet is a challenge with some of our students and it would simply be unfair to assign homework that requires internet, which I know many students do not have access to.  Thank you for listening and understanding the importance of using Twitter in the classroom.  

Parent:

Hi there,

Alright, I do feel better about this project, but I am still a little reluctant. If there is anything else, I will contact you. Thanks for your time.

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