Not all online faculty are as tech savvy as the online students they often teach. That is no excuse for you as an online student not to use your tech savvy skills in your online course to learn and connect with your fellow online classmates. Some online faculty, including myself, like to use Social Media in the online classroom to engage and empower online students to connect and learn. Mashable has suggested that using Twitter in the classroom can actually increase student engagement: http://mashable.com/2010/03/01/twitter-classroom/. I have found Facebook to be very challenging to use in an online course due to security and privacy issues (FERPA- Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act), but using Twitter can be easier and really liven up an online course. Some online faculty may encourage you to participate in Twitter in your online classes, but just because your online faculty might not be tech savvy and or using Twitter in your online course does not mean you can’t connect with your fellow online students via Twitter.
Twitter is effective because it allows you to connect even after the class ends. You can also use it to connect with previous students who might have taken that same course in the past and ones that will take it in the future. Most online colleges and universities have main Twitter pages that allow you to connect and interact as well.
But, if you never used Twitter before, here is a great overview / Twitter 101 for online college students: http://www.andreagenevieve.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/twitterebook.part1.pdf
Once you start using Twitter with your fellow online students and even instructor/faculty, it can make your online courses more personal. One great thing is that many people use a picture of themselves as their Twitter avatar. This helps to connect the name with the face that many online courses fail to do. Also, Twitter can be used in real time which also makes it more fun and beneficial.
Twitter is great to use in online classes because you can actually follow the person who actually wrote the online textbook and other course resources and or famous people in your field. For example, in my online cultural diversity courses, I follow and encourage all of my students to follow people like @CornelWest or @MichaelEDyson. If you were taking a poetry class, it would be great to follow and discuss in your online class @DrMayaAngelou. You can also encourage everyone in your class to tweet to a specific hashtag of your course number. For example #PhoenixENG101
Stay tuned until next week when I post another great blog post on online education!