Archive for Twitter

Thursday, August 11th, 2011

Tapping into In-Class Online Conversations (Backchannel)

Here at Boston College Law we’ve been getting a lot of chatter about backchannels and how they can be integrated into classes. While many of the examples that people are using focus on Twitter, the common concerns about privacy, anonymity, and moderation are always present as roadblocks.

So, we’ve been exploring a few different tools that we’d like to pilot over the next year. So far we’ve got two possible test subjects, and we’re hoping to get more. Below is our workshop flyer we’ve been shopping around to try and drum up some new business.

Remember when you passed a note to the person next to you? You may have even been caught by the teacher in the front of the room and now have an embarrassing memory.

Instead of pieces of paper, students are now passing emails, texts, and instant messages back and forth during class. There is actually a name for this, and it’s not distraction, rather its backchannel. New technologies have created ways for you to interact with your students through this communication channel and could create positive participation during your lectures.

We’ve been experimenting with a few of these services and found several that are easy to setup, use, and might be a perfect fit to tap into the backchannel in your classes – large or small. We’re offering a workshop in the Law Library to provide some hands-on time to try them out and discuss how these tools can help create more participation.

Backchannels can add to discussion in real time, punctuate section breaks to confirm understanding, be moderated by a TA, generate review questions, encourage collaboration between students, or even carry the discussion beyond the classroom. The possibilities are endless. For your reading pleasure we’ve attached chapter one from a book entitled The Backchannel: Why are you calling me a #@*% on Twitter?

In our workshop we’ll do some hands-on testing with Google Moderator, Today’s Meet, and H2O Question Tool a Berkman Center tool (similar to Backchan.nl from MIT). All free, all easy to use, and all available to you anytime.

Many times we find that when we want to introduce a new tool to our faculty, workshops work best. Hopefully this will be the case with backchannel tools.

So far we’ve thought of many different ways to use them for inside and outside the classroom. The voting tools like H20 Question Tool is great to get a class pulse on what the most important topics are and can allow for the discussion to continue outside of the classroom.

What I’d like to know is if you’ve been playing around with any of these tools (or others), and have any stories to share?

Friday, April 1st, 2011

Trends & Challenges in Educational Technology

There is essentially one reason why I was so excited to attend EDUCAUSE’s Midwest Regional Conference in March: the Keynote Speaker, Dr. Michael Wesch.

With the beauty of YouTube and TED talks, I can share the keynote presentation with you, albeit in a shorter form.

TEDxKC Michael Wesch From Knowledgeable to Knowledge-Able

Wesch focuses on the effects of social media and digital technology on society. Being an educator, he often concentrates on how this is changing the worldview of college students. I think law schools are behind in catering to new ways of teaching and learning. Law School is traditional. The modern world of education is becoming less so.

There are several trends  from the conference. I chose a top 5.

1) Twitter. Twitter isn’t just for celebrities. This is the 3rd conference where I’ve tweeted the conference. Below is a Wordle of the conference tweets. (#MWRC11). There was an intense amount of conversation on the Twitter back channel.  Through this back channel, many of us discussed the utility of using Twitter in class as a way for students to discuss (class related) things during class. Many undergraduate professors use this tactic already. Would this tactic work in highly Socratic classrooms?

2) Pedagogy. Being an educator of educators, I sometimes have difficulty not telling faculty how they should teach. My job is about arming faculty with tools to educate themselves and their students.  To meet the needs of the modern students, many faculty will need to rethink their teaching methods. This will be a challenge.

3) Technology. Along this line, students (even law students) are armed with tools to educate themselves.  Faculty complain of students using laptops too much in the classroom. Despite studies suggesting the useful nature of laptops in learning,  laptops have been banned.   I’ve discovered is that debunking the myths of technology use in the classroom is not enough to get faculty or students willing to try something new. I’ve found that finding a solution to a problem and in turn, supporting that solution works better. The mere use of technology is not the solution to problems in teaching and learning.

4) Students want the opportunity to learn with new tools – as long as those tools have a purpose in their learning. Technology shouldn’t hinder a learner’s learning or a teacher’s teaching. The challenge is to not overwhelm the students with tools – where students spend more time learning the tools than learning the subject. Students want faculty to use course management systems effectively- but using the CMS isn’t enough.

5) Mobile Use. Other than the words “Social Media” I think I heard the words “mobile” the most. Mobile learning is on the rise. Most Course Management systems have come out with Mobile Apps if not Mobile sites.  Law schools with a large commuter population might do well to get in to mobile learning early to help with access.

So where do these trends and questions leave law schools? Do we embrace the change and force our faculty and students into a new mold – or do we hide from the change and teach the law the way it has been taught for decades?

More Resources:

Michael Wesch’s Youtube Channel

Educause Website

GOOD Education