Twitter in the Classroom: Brilliant or Insane?

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Twitter is an absolute monster. It’s scarier than Frankenstein, Dracula or any other horror film character you can think of. What? You don’t think Twitter is scary? Okay, maybe it isn’t so terrifying to you, but if you’ve tried to get your students to use Twitter in the classroom, you know what I mean.

In the past, when I told students that I wanted to use Twitter in the classroom, a chorus of students sings loudly, “My parents won’t let me on Twitter.” When I’d ask why, they’d say their parents are afraid of Twitter.
Twitter is not a monster
Many parents — the adults, on whom we rely to make informed decisions — think Twitter is unsafe; they feel that Twitter in the classroom is unrealistic. It’s some sort of social media monster, they believe, waiting to devour children the second they click “follow.”
The problem is parents don’t believe a social network like Twitter can be private. This fear is a stigma that plagues social media and inhibits learning. It’s the responsibility of educators in the digital world to help parents see the value of Twitter in the classroom.
Invite your students’ parents to a forum about Twitter. Put Twitter on your interactive whiteboard. Pull up the #Edchat hashtag. Show them how to create a classroom Twitter account and how you can engage students and parents in a fascinating conversation about learning, using a Twitter in the classroom hashtag you create.
Learning about ancient civilizations? Create an #ancientciv Twitter hashtag, and invite parents at your forum to participate in a mock conversation, similar to one you’d have in the classroom.
Soon, your students’ parents will see how valuable Twitter can be as a tool for teaching and learning. Oh, you might also consider sharing the picture on this blog post of first graders using Twitter in the classroom.
So, is Twitter in the classroom brilliant or is it insane? You decide. And remember to share your Twitter experiences in our comment section below.
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Mark Barnes is the Founder of Times 10 Publications, which produces the popular Hack Learning Series -- books and other series that provide right-now solutions for teachers and learners. Mark is the author or publisher of dozens of books, including Bestseller Hacking Education: 10 Quick Fixes for Every School. Barnes presents internationally on assessment, connected education, and Hack Learning. Join more than 150,000 interested educators who follow @markbarnes19 on Twitter.

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