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Twitter: a good educational tool?

Twitter has been suggested to be an optimus manner for children to learn communication and interaction skills, which any other methods or platforms could never provide us with. Therefore, we would be witnesses of a revolutionary new way of teaching. Now, the question is, is Twitter a really good tool for education?

First of all, let’s analyse what positive aspects have working on Twitter with the youngest students:

What experts appeared to underline the most is children’s literacy development. According to Mike Laurie, a worker of the agency Made by Many in London, taking part in social media helps children to avoid literacy and does increase their ability to express their ideas with grater clarity:

“It stands to reason that children who read and write more are better at reading and writing. And writing blog posts, status updates, text messages, instant messages, and the like all motivate children to read and write. Last month, The National Literacy Trust released the results of a survey of over 3000 children. They observed a correlation between children’s engagement with social media and their literacy. Simply put, social media has helped children become more literate. Indeed, Eurostat recently published a report drawing a correlation between education and online activity, which found that online activity increased with the level of formal activity (socio-economic factors are, of course, potentially at play here as well).”

Remarking Mike Laurie’s idea, there are two other experts, in this case Dr Mutuota Kigoth & Mrs Helen Doyle, who apart from underlining the idea of literacy, they emphasize the fact that kids would be able to share what is on their minds, and that Twitter may help shyest children to speak up their minds easily, increasing their confidence. Here there are some of the most positive aspects kids can get from the use of Twitter in their educational life:

  • Embed Twitter into everyday life of the classroom to develop competences with literacy and digital technologies within a meaningful and enriching context. Martin Waller, Teacher at Holy Trinity Rosehill C.E. Primary School, Stockton.
  • Pupils gain confidence in their literacy skills
  • Share learning
  • Authentic audience
  • Instant feedback
  • Sharing learning & culture
  • Disengaged students become engaged in writing process.
  • Engage shy students
  • Ask questions. Twitter is great for getting opinions.
  • Students find a voice.

As we can see the benefits teachers can take from the use of Twitter in the classroom could apparently be absolutely successful, providing that its use is properly controlled by the teachers. However, the debate of whether children should be permitted to use this microblogging site or not has been in everybody’s lips for the last years. In an article entitled Twitter for Children – Good or bad?, published on the website Twitter Tips Central, it is explained different opinions about why the use of Twitter by kids would be worrying. In the following extract we can read some neurological experts’ statements about this topic: “… children who make a constant use of social network sites would end up  having increasingly short attention spans. They would even go as far as claiming that these things will lead to children being less tolerant and understanding of others. Defenders are quick to point out though that social networking has led to increased social interaction among kids while making them easily adapt to new technology…“.

Consequently it is clear that Twitter may be used by youngest pupils in order to improve their communication and literacy skills, but we can’t forget that letting children to access to several social networking sites could mean the increase of their exposure on the Internet, and that could have a high negative impact on their little minds.

References:

  1. Article on Twitter Tips Central called “Twitter for Children – Good or bad?” written by “TWIT_EXPERT”. http://www.twittertipscentral.com/miscellaneous/twitter-for-children/
  2. Article on Mashable called “How social media has changed us” written by Mike Laurie, published on 07/01/2010. http://mashable.com/2010/01/07/social-media-changed-us/ 
  3. Presentation on Prezi called “Social Media – Twitter as a tool for Education” written by Dr Mutuota Kigoth & Mrs Helen Doyle, published on 02/11/2011. http://prezi.com/gsp73lokv3ni/social-media-twitter-as-a-tool-for-education/
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