Last week, I had the opportunity to attend the three-day Digital Media and Learning Conference in San Francisco, and experienced my first truly engaging experience with Twitter. I had #dml2012 open on my laptop at all times, and was constantly reading the incoming tweets as I listened to the speakers – it was like the lecture had turned into a class discussion. People were summarizing and clarifying the speakers’ points, raising questions, and occasionally making jokes.
Reading the tweets gave me a feel for the group’s general opinion about and varying perspectives on the presentations, which helped me understand how I felt about them. And the action of tweeting was like a heightened form of note taking – I was writing notes in a Word document, but when I found myself particularly enthusiastic about a point, I would tweet it. I was thus contributing to the community’s collective reflection on what we were hearing, and passing a few nuggets of wisdom back to the people at home.
My immediate reaction to this was, can this transfer to a 300-student lecture class? It would be incredible to have students engaging with each other and with the lecture topic on that level. Unfortunately, that kind of inauthentic and forced interaction is never the same and it would be difficult to keep students on task.
Maybe a compromise could be looking at twitter feeds from a conference and talking with students about the unique community of collaboration twitter can invoke. Using a twitter feed as a text in this way may help students contextualize the potential role of twitter (and of collaborative note taking) in academic and professional settings.
For more information about the conference check out: Doug’s Conference Blog, Bud the Teacher, and Losing the Luddite. You can also look at the Group Notes in a Google Doc or the #dml2012 Twitter Feed.