Using technology in every day class – Check ins, twitter, social notes.

The other day I met with some fellow Ed-Tech people here in Bangkok and while we were discussion different things some of them also asked how we use technology in class and how we handle the distraction that is always present. Whether it’s on facebook, twitter or any other social media service or mobile applications.

I have to say that I usually don’t encounter to many disturbances with those ‘distractions’ since I try to use them more or less frequently in class. Even if it’s not an IT class you can still make use of the fact that almost everybody is online all the time.

So here’s one example of using mobile phones and current technology in the classroom.

Checking names via Check-In

Since universities over here in Thailand have to check attendance (yes, required by the law) most teachers usually do it the old fashioned way and call out names and wait for the ‘yes’ signal by students. Others might give a list around or let students sign at the end of the class. I’m not doing this anymore. I simply started to tell students to check in via foursquare (in our classroom / lecture) or, if they are not on foursquare, I let them check in via my website where they can simply check in with their ID. Of course it’s not completely fool proof – if someone would want to cheat, he could. But so could he with the old fashioned way. This way simply let’s students use their toys to do something that usually takes quite a bit of time in a more fun and easy way.

And, just to prevent the laziest form of cheating, I’m checking the time stamp on those check-ins of course. If you check in way to soon or more than 20 minutes late, it won’t count.

Twitter Wall & Social Notes

While the aforementioned check in isn’t that super nerdy I decided to take it a little further. I set up a twitter wall that would display a certain #hashtag that I introduced in the beginning of each class. So now students are encouraged to send tweets with the according hashtag to answer questions or to comment on things they see, find out or don’t understand. Why not just ask in person you might ask. Well, asking directly is of course encouraged but using twitter to comment on the lecture and the topics might let other users engage and might even bring different angles into the whole discussion. So far it worked surprisingly well. So well that we now decided to also check public posts on facebook and hashtages on app.net & instagram and to compile them, together with the tweets from twitter to a downloadable ‘story’ that goes along with each lecture.

In addition to this there is also always a ‘community’ online that can be used to share notes, questions, etc. That’s nothing new of course but compliments the twitter wall and ‘social notes’ features.

All of this has proven to be accepted and used by students. Obviously it is also easy to ‘hack’ such things. Twitter Wall hijacking is nothing new and students try to do that once in a while as well. But if they do it, their notes will be hijacked later on as well and will not help them on the long run. So usually the tweets stay on topic with a few puns and jokes in it, which is completely fine and actually helps not to take everything to serious. Who wouldn’t wanna have some fun while studying?

Do you also use twitter or other tools? Or is Social Media still a no go in class? How do you control it? Let me know in the comments. Looking forward to some opinions.

  • Pingback: Ideas on how to use Social Media & Mobile in everyday education | doing it with FUN(k)()

  • I like your ideas of checking name. Today lesson was fun and creative class because I have never thought bout making application through own creation.
    Yes, I agree that IT make the process quickly.

    • Thanks for your feedback. There are many more assignments like that coming up. Hope you can take away some new ideas from this class afterwards 🙂

  • Aung Phyo Thant

    I love your idea of driving students apply either social medias or internet for educational purpose. Most of us rarely use social media for educational intentions. In fact, we use ” Facebook” for entertainment rather than involving in intellectual discussions. By mean of your help, we could slowly involve in intellectual discussions of online.