Mobile phones keep surfacing in the classroom. As students multitask (or just get bored) they often turn to the closest iPhone for a brief moment of respite. Instead of discouraging phone use, I wonder if it could be harnessed. Twitterfall served as my most recent attempt to do just that.
In my integrated strategic communication course in the Knight School of Communication at Queens University of Charlotte, we tried a class Twitterfall in conjunction with our “One week of Twitter” assignment. All students were already using Twitter and many had in-class access through mobile phones.
With the novelty of a Twitterfall, some of the tweets focused on the technology itself:
Others commented on the class and its use of Twitter:
Some commented on my attire:
But often, the tweets connected information in the class to other information. One student found a YouTube video referenced in class and tweeted it out. Another defined a word that led to some misunderstanding. Still others carried on backchannel conversation.
Mobile phone use in class increased, but all mobile phone use produced tweets in our Twitterfall. By encouraging students to use Twitter, my guess is that unrelated mobile phone use decreased. To me, that is a success.
Setting up the Twitterfall
To set up the Twitterfall (at right), I entered (1) our class list “jamcarthur/comm306” into the list field and (2) the class hashtag “#comm306” into the twitter search field. Using these two tools, I could see all content produced by students in the class – on topic or not.
I encouraged students to tweet during class, but reminded them that all tweets would be immediately visible.
- a class list created on Twitter;
- Internet access;
- a projector, screen, or television for display;
- a spirit of experimentation.