Friday, November 30, 2012

WPP Part D Findings and Implications

In an earlier blog titled WPP Part A, I mentioned that this project would continue on for sometime, but as a check point (and for an MAET deadline) I had the students take complete a survey today. I gave the same group of student a survey two plus weeks ago, that survey was about researching skills, habits, and tools that they used. Unlike that survey, this one was only about using Twitter as a research tool.

This was a good time to collect information. So far, the implementation has gone as planned with no major errors, but feedback will help me move forward with this project. From an observation students seem to be embracing it. As a rule, student do not moan and groan when asked to go to Twitter, in fact many seem excited. Of course there is one or two that will say "I hate Twitter", but then they join the rest of their classmates.

I have been surprised at the speed that some of the students have grasped the concept of using the "thick"tweets and in determining the quality of their experts (listen to their words on the podcast of WPP Part C). At the same time there are many who are still becoming comfortable with asking questions of an expert. And many are shocked when an expert does not respond to a question or request of a student. This makes me wonder if providing some more formal workshops on Twitter before we started may have been useful. Either way, I have shared some data below that I believe indicates that implementing Twitter as a research tool has been a success so far.

The snapshot below shows the number of students who have completed this survey. Of that number 51 have made the leap to trying Twitter as a research tool. The bottom graph indicates that of the fifty one students, forty one of them have used it on four different occasions. And twenty one of them have used it 8 or more times.

This next graph indicates how the students found Twitter to be useful or not in their research. It is important to point out that twenty of the twenty eight responses that found "nothing was useful" are probably the twenty who have not used Twitter as a research tool. I believe the other results indicate that Twitter can be used as a research tool. If I were to do this survey again I would like to ask the same question about Google or any other search engine. I don't believe the students could give search engines the same marks as they did Twitter. Especially for  interesting (tweets) "comments" made by others in the field of study. Nor do I believe students can formulate a relationship that allows them to ask questions and get feedback. In fact, I think students will usually find websites rather then current articles or actual people when they use a search engine.

The data below indicates that the students like Twitter as a research, perhaps not all of the time, but they are beginning to recognize it uses. In fact when the data is narrowed to students who have used Twitter 10 times or more, then the likelihood of Twitter being a useful tool increases. As does the number of students who have had two way conversation with an expert. I think this is a sign of growth and becoming comfortable.

I plan to continue to use Twitter as a research tool in class. To enhance it I plan to provide several short work shops that will help students identify who to follow and who not to follow, locating article links, and building professional relationships. While creating these workshops I plan to use the ISTE NETS for students and teachers as a guide. In addition to the NETS I am hoping to get suggestions from individuals such as Dr. Martin Eve (@martin_eve), who has presented on the idea of using Twitter as a research tool.

If you want to implement Twitter as a tool, here are my suggestions to get started:

  1. Model use of Twitter in class.
  2. Have students load Tweetdeck or Twitterific onto their devices. I personally like Tweetdeck for my laptop but Twitterific for all my mobile devices.
  3. Get students using Twitter to share, have them use @ and #.
  4. Have them search a topic by placing a # in front of the topic.
  5. After becoming comfortable with searching, have students begin to identify individual as experts; number of followers, biography, websites, and number of tweets.
  6. Provide regular time several times per week, it only takes 3-5 minutes to do a Tweet Start or a Tweet Ender, student will begin to spend more of their own time once they realize the power of the tool.
  7. Encourage the building of networks and or pln's.
  8. Use storify or an to capture whole class use and to encourage continued use.
  9. Share your class' experience with me @marcschulzkih and @kihscience.

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