On a hot and sticky sunny day this Tuesday, I dragged my Year 10 science students into one of our free ICT suites (Which now seem to be standing empty a lot more than usual, this is due to Year 11 & 13 leaving for examinations, but none of the other teachers have seemed to work this out) There were a few moans and groans which isn’t normal about using the technology as they love it and normally when you remind them we are in there you are hit with the sound of a large cheers and hormonal stampede towards the door! Tuesday however was hot and the students know that although we have fans, tinted windows and many other heat removing devices it with so many computers in there it gets hot! However as soon as I reminded them that we were going live with our Twitter/12 seconds revision project then all moans completely disappeared and the stampede had begun.
The idea was to all create a twitter account in which we would stalk everyone else in the class, we then created a 12 seconds TV account which we hen linked to our twitter accounts this was so that when we posted a video the feed would go to twitter and inform others that a video had been posted. The idea was that students would produce 4 or 5 12 second revision videos a lesson, they would take a topic and try and write a 12 second video clip in a creative way that other students and themselves could then watch and watch again as part of their revision. When they posted it other students would then click on the link on twitter, watch it then give the other student feedback as part of peer assessment. This is so students could be active in their revision and make it interesting.
Anyway how have we got on then?
We all managed to sign up to twitter and 12 seconds after changing the filter on what students could access, I had contacted parents and got their permission first and we had tested it with about 4 of the students as a brief pilot and it worked really well.
However it then all went wrong – we had no issues with the twitter part but with 12 seconds, some students had their accounts frozen and couldn’t seem to use them or one minute they were using it and then the site would crash when they tried to upload a video. I was unsure if this was a problem within school or with the actual site, I believe it maybe the actual site itself. The next big problem was that when students went to view other students’ videos then some of the computers wouldn’t play them as they needed a different version of flash downloading. We got our ICT support down to help and they could solve the problem as students don’t have administrator rights to download programmes like this so a technician had to log them off and then log them on again and solve the problem – this took around 15 minutes per student. The problem is that when we use a different computer room next time we will have the same problems.
We probably had around a 10% success rate and as a class we discussed the ways forward. Students suggested that as twitter was working well we could just use that for collaboration e.g. one suggestion was that we took it in turns to post a revision question and then everyone else would post an answer and it would take on a competitive edge as we could see who got the answer correct and in the quickest time. You would also then have a log of correct answers which students could use to revise. We then decided that we still wanted to make these short videos because students felt that this would be really beneficial – we discussed using youtube and other methods but then decided on setting up our own Ning community where we could do basically what we wanted to do in the first place plus other features. The other bonus is that once again it was free, we had more control over it and more importantly we have had previous success with it as a tool.
I came out feeling very disappointed with what had happened but felt a massive sense of pride and guilt. I felt guilty as I felt I had wasted a bit of their precious revision time but also guilty because the students as learners were much more resilient than me – ‘don’t worry sir we can use ning we know it works and it will do what is says on the tin, but thanks for trying something new’ that is where the pride bit came in.
Other people discussing Twitter:
@timbuckteeth (follow him on twitter) has some good examples on his blog at http://steve-wheeler.blogspot.com/2009/01/teaching-with-twitter.html and also additional links at the bottom to other people like David Parry (potential useful video)
@Innovativeteach (follow him on twitter) tweeted this stuff from Monica Rankin (Dallas) http://www.utdallas.edu/~mar046000/usweb/twitterconclusions.htm and it gives some interesting examples.
What do you think about this? Have you tried things and it has gone horribly wrong? Are you using 12 seconds TV or something similar or twitter in the classroom? Then please post below!
Next blog – I promise I will talk about RECHARGE THE BATTERY!