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Friday, July 13, 2012

Can teachers take the monster out of Twitter?

Twitter is an absolute monster. It's scarier than Frankenstein, Dracula, or any other horror film character you can think of.

At least parents think so

What? You don't think Twitter is scary? Okay, maybe it isn't so scary to you, but if you've tried to get your students to use Twitter, you know what I mean.

Anytime I say I want to use Twitter, a chorus of students sings loudly, "My parents won't let me on Twitter." When I ask why, they say their parents are scared of Twitter.

Parents -- the adults, on whom we rely to make informed decisions -- think Twitter is unsafe. It's some sort of social media monster, waiting to devour children the second they click "follow."

Coping with the stigma

The problem is parents don't believe a social network like Twitter can be private. It's a stigma that social media applications are cursed with. 

In order to get my students to use Twitter (outside of school only, because my district blocks Twitter), I blog about it on my classroom web site. Plus, I'll discuss it at open house, doing all I can to illustrate both the security and the educational value of Twitter.

Enlist students

Then, I get the students to help me. I show them the video linked above about Twitter privacy, and I teach them how to register safely for Twitter. Then, I encourage them to ask their parents to join Twitter and follow our classroom Twitter stream. With parents following both our classroom and their own children on Twitter, what could be safer?

With this approach, maybe we can take the monster out of Twitter.