Twitter in online grad class

I attended too many conferences this past Spring. I attended/ presented at CCCC’s, hosted/ran/presented at the Undergraduate Videogame Symposium at NAU, and attended/presented/mentored undergrads at NCUR. My topics and research interests for each conference overlap, but were still very different. I worried about tracking my own notes, my own conference learning, my own new ideas. As a seasoned notetaker (anyone who makes it through the PhD ha taken plenty of notes in their academic career!), I wondered how I could also represent these ideas and notes, how could a conference capitalize on this creative energy as data visualization?

What I considered as we planned for the UVS was how to track notes and the brilliant ideas being discussed. Data visualization to show the non-believers the intellectual work taking place at the undergrad symposium. I saw CCCC attemptthis with a compter lab of sorts, while the idea and theory was there, it was missing participant buy-in, understanding and support, so it became a quiet room for faculty and grad students to work.

The UVS utilized post-it notes and a board to track this. I assigned volunteers the task of taking notes, posting post-its, wandering around and asking participants questions. While this overcame the buy-in problem, the notes were not always helpful, they lacked uniformity, structure. Some simply wrote “fun” while others engaged with complex ideas related to cultural critique of videogames. I still feel this approach was successful, but the un-portability of the post-it note board makes this a stationary, difficult to share example of group notes, unless I transcribe everything.

NCUR was a jumbled mess of undergrads and faculty using the spaces they feel comfortable with in the ways they feel comfortable. While notes were taken, and hashtags used, there is significant sorting through peer to peer interactions to find notes.

At all the events I live tweeted.

From this was born the idea to use Twitter in my online classes for reading notes. I’ve read articles on using Twitter in class, for live tweeting during class, back channel conversation monitoring, and a more indirect method of raising questions in class, but so far not for reading notes.  Between CCCCs and UVS I scoured the internet looking for easy to use hashtag sorters. At NCUR I found a few, and found them to be too expensive. In any case, I had a plan, with a slid pedagogical foundation, integration of technology to support pedagogical practices, not technology for the sake of technology. Timelines and deadlines to consider with pedagogy to support, and yet I struggled with the assignment. this is twitter after all, the space gamergaters feel no one should care about, the space Sarkeesian (of Feminist Frequency fame) regularly receives death threats and levies critiques against pop culture, the space everyone who is anyone in the tech world and ed tech world claims is dying (they said Facebook was dying too, so take all that with a grain of salt). Today, I read this article on Chronicle Vitae – my Twitter struggles discussed by another faculty member. Marshall’s conclusion was to introduce the assignment differently, at this point, with the course starting today so the syllabus and assignment already posted, I can only hope it makes sense to my students. So begins the grand experiment of group notes for an online course using twitter…….

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