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, 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!

8 Responses to "Classroom idea: Twitter note-taking"

  1. Deborah Potter
    Deborah Potter 8 years ago .Reply

    Twitter is definitely worth experimenting with in the classroom, Steve, and in fact, it’s been done. Here’s a write-up on what a prof. at Penn State has been doing: Check the comments–especially the one from a student in the class.

  2. Steve Outing
    Steve Outing 8 years ago .Reply

    Thanks for the pointer, Deborah. I suspect such in-class multi-tasking fits the current college generation. I watch my daughters multitask with media devices constantly, with ease. My older brain has trouble, alas.

  3. fish
    fish 8 years ago .Reply

    love this idea – actually planning to suggest that folks twitter info during my lecture class in the fall. we’ll see how it goes! and whether it keeps them off of facebook! heh!

  4. […] and entrepreneur from Colorado.  He has some great stories on his blog, including one about using Twitter for note-taking in the […]

  5. Dave
    Dave 8 years ago .Reply

    I’m hard of hearing and can’t take notes at conferences because I speech-read. Twitter notes have been a godsend. In addition to getting more and better info, I enjoy the sessions more. Because speech reading is based as much on inference from the context of the discussion as on directly reading the speaker’s lips, the hardest things to catch are jokes and funny throwaway lines where the humor is from saying something unexpected or out of context. What a pleasure – you’d be surprised how grumpy you can get when you’re left out of the joke everyone else is enjoying.

  6. […] Twitter Experiment – Bringing Twitter to the Classroom at UT Dallas on the Kesmit-ing blog, Classroom idea: Twitter note-taking on Steve Outing’s blog, and Embracing the Twitter Classroom on the Huffington Post. […]

  7. Daniel Clemens
    Daniel Clemens 8 years ago .Reply

    I am clearly a bit biased, but tens of thousands of students around the globe are using EtherPad to collaborate on notes in really real time. It is a really powerful use case as students are empowered to add original ideas rather than simply transcribing a lecture.

    Would love your thoughts!

    -Daniel, COO, AppJet, Inc. (makers of EtherPad)

  8. Rachel
    Rachel 8 years ago .Reply

    Great ideas! I actually use a software tool called PerfectNotes. It records everything and links it to my notes, so I can focus more on what’s going on in the class without worrying about missing anything. Then I can go back later and quickly play just what I missed. Technology in the classroom is a godsend, however you use it!

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