This morning I was invited to participate in a school’s year 10 Citizenship class: via Twitter. I’m not sure how well it worked, but it was an interesting experiment. Here I outline some of the challenges I think it presents as a model, which I’m keen to help iron out.
The lesson was on the topic of climate change, and the teacher had set up a Twitter account from which she tweeted questions on behalf of the class.
Because I wasn’t in the classroom I have no idea how the lesson progressed, which in turn made me feel somewhat isolated. That may not be a bad thing, although it was impossible to know how much commitment was required during the lesson (and, in fact, how long the lesson was to last).
Even though the external contributors like myself were few, the quality of replies was sometimes questionable. This is not a problem provided we were being treated the same as any other source, and not as experts.
I think the main stumbling block was actually the questions; they were too wide for us to answer with any authority, but appeared to expect us to.
These are not criticisms though. It was a bold experiment, and I hope it’s repeated. If it is, my suggestions would be:
- be clearer at the outset of the topic in hand (ie I was told it would be on the citizenship aspects of sustainable development but the questions were about the effects of climate change);
- perhaps, instead of asking questions that expect answers, actually conduct a discussion on a specific question; or invite questions to the class instead (which challenges them rather than offers them easy access to answers);
- provide the external participants with some context; maybe via a live blog of the lesson, or pre-published notes.
I’m no teacher though, so any comments gratefully received. I think this was a great initiative, and hope the teacher in question will continue to explore it.