"One Week of Twitter" is a module designed for students to learn and utilize the popular social media site. Detailed directions on how to set up and operate a twitter account are provided along with a corresponding classroom assignment that is completed after the one week twitter period. Home work assignment for the students to experience firsthand Social Media in General and Twitter in particular. The particular application is in a Public Relations course.
The site has the dual purpose of explaining how to use twitter and the benefits of doing so. Particular emphasis is placed on the networking and career building strengths of twitter by forcing students to interact with public relations professionals in addition to their classmates.
Target Student Population:
This particular assignment is geared towards public relations students (either undergraduate or graduate). However, it can easily be adapted for any discipline or education level. In many cases, the younger the student, the more receptive they would be to the assignment given the social networking angle. It also appears that many individuals outside of academia have used the site as a source of basic twitter knowledge.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
Students would need to have basic computer skills and some comfort level with social networking, in general.
Type of Material:
Drill and Practice
This is designed as an individual, week-long assignment. However, given the nature of twitter, it is likely that many students who become "hooked" will continue beyond the assigned time period. Also, if assigned at the start of the semester as recommended by the author, the assignment can be used as an ice breaker for students to get to know each other.
This material requires basic Internet access with HTML/text capabilities.
Evaluation and Observation
This assignment deals with a very timely topic and issue - "how and why should I twitter?". The directions concerning setting up an account and basic twittering tips are very detailed as are the written project directions. The website for the course is outstanding in design and content. The assignment deals with a very important current topic: Twitter as an integral part of the New Media. The assignment stitches together Twitter with other Social Media (Facebook) and integrates tools such as Blogging, Podcasts, etc to enhance the learning experience. Most impressive!!
Given that this is an interactive assignment, the concept of "baptism by fire" comes to mind. There will be a significant amount of learning as you "do". For a faculty member unfamiliar with twitter, this would be a difficult assignment to oversee, and the students might not realize the networking and career benefits. The author, herself, admits that it takes about a week to become comfortable with twitter.
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
The learning objectives and assignment directions are very clear. Also, specific directions for a written assignment are provided. If everyone (faculty member, students, and overall twitter community) does their part with respect to twittering, this assignment could be tremendously effective. It is easy to use and adapt to use in a number of course in Marketing in general and e-Marketing and IMCM in particular
The effectiveness of this assignment is tied to the quality of the twitter posts and the connections that the students and faculty make between the experience and course topic. A review of twitter posts attached to this assignment vary from current event issues to today's Young and the Restless episode.
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
The assignment, itself, is clear. The assignment website is engaging and visually appealing. It makes you want to read further. The ease of using Twitter will depend on the student.
Some students may be slower to take to social networking than others. Twittering nuances and etiquette are more difficult to convey. The author does address these issues, but given the complexity involved, these directions are not as clear.
Other Issues and Comments:
Whether or not a faculty member would want to use this assignment, may depend in part on the level of familiarity they like to have with their students. If you choose to twitter in the typical sense, your personal and professional life become intertwined. Of course, the issue of privacy (or lack there-of) is another lesson that can come out of this assignment. One of the best designed and written drill practice.