Thursday, January 15, 2015

Social Media: What Teens Can Teach Us

The first thing I did when I opened by computer today was read "tweets" from sophomores in the Honors World Literature class here at CJ. They were tasked with summarizing sections of Oedipus Rex in 140 characters or less and to share them in a forum on their Moodle page. I had helped the teacher design the assignment earlier in the week, suggesting a discussion forum on Moodle as a venue for students to share/turn in their Tweets. 

Though the students mostly ended up paraphrasing instead of summarizing, the result of the assignment was a "feed" of "tweets" that both captured the essence of the play's drama (they were working with the end of the play - secrets revealed, eyes gouged out, etc.) and displayed a witty use of that simple symbol that has taken over social media - the hashtag. I had to share a few of them here:

The teacher who gave this assignment was pleased with the results and is considering make it a regular task in the class - good practice with an essential skill and a little bit of fun make for a good assignment in my eyes. That the students embraced this assignment and got creative with these hashtags signifies a victory - and I'm pretty sure the teacher (not on Twitter or Facebook... or any social media, if I recall correctly) learned something about Twitter and hashtags via this simple assignment.


A bit later, another colleague stopped by my desk to share a blog post with me... and it was very enlightening. I'm sure it has made its way around social media already, since it is all about social media, but I'd still like to share it here. And wow, did it make me feel old and out of it...

The author, Andrew Watts (@thatswattsup), gives an overview of what he has observed about social media from the perspective of teens - and between his initial article and a follow-up post, he covers all the big ones.

I hadn't heard of many of the apps and platforms he explains, and many of them just don't seem relevant to me at this stage in my life. But as an educator working with teens and technology, it's good information to have.

Time to go exploring...