Classroom idea: Twitter note-taking

By Steve Outing

If you’ve been to a media conference lately, you know that it’s increasingly common for audience members to be posting to Twitter during speeches and panels. At the Online Journalism Symposium at the University of Texas recently, during a panel I was chairing, not only were some audience members tweeting about the panel, so was one of the panelists when she wasn’t speaking!

Yesterday I was on a long car ride with a buddy who’s interested in educational technology, and we were bouncing around ideas, including how to leverage social tools online and using mobile devices. I don’t know if some educators haven’t already tried this, but here’s an experiment we devised using Twitter:

  • Pick a day when your class has a guest speaker.
  • Ask all the students to take notes by posting to Twitter (laptop or cell phone).
  • Each tweet-note should have common hashtag (e.g., #123notes).
  • Because of Twitter’s 140-character limit (including the hashtag), students will be forced to boil down the speaker’s points to their essence.
  • And, of course, clue in your speaker so he/she knows why the students are glued to their phones and laptops!

Here’s why this could be a beneficial classroom experiment:

  • Any individual student taking notes or just listening to a speaker will retain only a percentage of what’s been presented. Some will pick up and remember more than others.
  • With all the students taking Twitter notes, the resulting stream of tweets (in my example, http://twitter.com/#123notes) will document more of the speaker’s ideas and thoughts than any one student could record on his/her own.
  • Students can review the tweet stream later to get a better understanding of what was said — reading about points that might have gone over their heads, or that they missed in a moment of lost concentration.
  • Those who missed the class can still get a pretty good idea of what was presented.
  • Students can even tweet among themselves (using the hashtag) so there’s a side-channel conversation going on.

I think this is a technique that could actually enhance the amount of information retained by a room of students listening to a speaker. Has anyone tried this? If not, how about it?

Author: Steve Outing Steve Outing is a Boulder, Colorado-based media futurist, digital-news innovator, consultant, journalist, and educator. ... Need assistance with media-company future strategy? Get in touch with Steve!