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Using Twitter As A Teaching Aid

Using #Twitter As A Teaching Aid-Some Interesting Figures

by stuarthepburn on March 2, 2011

I have blogged in the past about using new media platforms as a learning & teaching resource. The entire content of our  BA (Hons) Contemporary Screen Acting Programme at the University of the West of Scotland is delivered using Twitter, Posterous and Youtube at the very core of Teaching , Learning and , crucially Assessement. From it’s inception in September 2010, student engagement with these platforms was developed gradually over the first 15 weeks of the programme. In the second trimester of the programme there is now 100% participation from  the students and participating  staff across a wide range of New Media . However I had carried out no empirical research on the pace of takeup from the students. This was due to the fact that September 2010 was the first time I had run the programme and I had other things on my mind more pressing than research.

However it has become clear from the level of student engagement (100%) and their enthusiastic and positive feedback that the experiment of using the new media in this way has been a qualified success. Obviously I was hampered in that I had no data to demonstrate to what degree this had been the case .I also did not know if the alacrity with which my small group of 15 Performance students engaged with these new platforms could be replicated across the board with other Creative Industries students. The students had, after all, been interviewed and recruited on the basis of using these new media platforms as the key deliverer of their creative screen acting work.

My colleague John Quinn and I teach a module on the Film Making and Screenwriting Programme here at UWS titled “Team Writing For Television.” You can read about the background of TWFTV as I have blogged previously about the module here .We
decided to attempt to use Twitter as a platform at the centre of the module for student feedback ,feedforward and reflection, using the #TWFTV hashtag.

There are 50 students in the current 2011 cohort. Since week 1 of the Module in February 2011, from a base of zero,  there have now been over 300 (and building)  separate #TWFTV responses from the students. You can carry out your own #TWFTV search on twitter to have a look at them right now.  They range from reflections on  lessons, suggestions for new themes and Television Series to studied , and real time comments on shows I have asked them to watch out of class.This has been a voluntary process. Every time John or I get an interesting tweet on #TWFTV, we RT this to our own followers. There are no marks or brownie points for the students, other than the fact that we have shown them that we read their tweets, and will respond to them if we can. The sight of a student’s face when you reveal that you are indeed going to analyse their favourite long running TV series because of a casual mention on Twitter makes the whole exercise worthwhile. Thus, they KNOW that we listen to them , and the engagement goes up steadily as a result. A point to note is that the content of the students tweets,( contrary to fears expressed by colleagues) has been overwhelmingly positive and creative as the take up has grown steadily. It takes a bit of courage to throw open the doors of the classroom to one billion potential eyes and ears, but so far no one has flamed us online, and even if they did, as is the way with Twitter, the dogs would bark, and the caravan would move on. At least I hope that is what would happen. We shall see.

As the module has progressed,John Quinn and I have been monitoring, reflecting and reacting to the tweets, and have now carried out a short interim survey of the up take and use of Twitter and feedback from the students, to see if we can draw any general conclusions. We are specifically interested in exploring the use of Twitter as a tool for enhancing the Teaching and Learning experience from the perspective of the student.

There have been some serendipitous events as a result of this process. Peter Kosminsky (@kosmoSFL )  tweeted back to us on our response to his recent mini series “The Promise”. Francis McKee of the CCA in Glasgow  ( @CCA_Glasgow) RTd one of our responses also using the hashtag.  Reaction to our discussions have come from followers of The Glasgow Film Festival, Step2CollaboTV, and even as far afield as the States and Australia. In this way, the #TWFTV hashtag, which started off as a modest attempt to engage some students in Ayr with their teaching and learning has spread its wings far afield. It’s no Justin Beiber, but at least it is causing a small ripple or two in the Tweetoshpere. I even recieved an email from New Zealand asking me about the module and if we taught it by distance learning!

Below are some of the preliminary data and findings of this anonymous survey.
It is worth noting that the *12.82% of students who had used Twitter in the past for academic communication were all studying on my Contemporary Screen Acting programme. None of the remaining students had used Twitter in this way before. This survey was carried out in Week 5 of a 15 week module, so we are one third of the way through the process.

Response rate 78% (39/50)

1. Prior to the start of the TWFTV module, had you ever communicated with your tutors about class matters via a social networking platform?
Yes: *12.82%
No: 87.18%

2. Since the start of the TWFTV module, have you communicated with your tutors about class matters via a social networking platform?
Yes: 53.85%
No: 43.59

3%. Do you think that social networking platforms are a useful tool in communicating feedback to your peers and tutors?
Yes: 94.87%
No: 5.13%

4. Would you like to see more modules using social network platforms for class feedback and engagement?
Yes: 82.05%
No: 17.95%

5. Do you prefer using tools such as Twitter, Facebook and Google Docs to the university VLE Blackboard for feedback and communication?
Yes: 76.92%
No: 23.08%

We also asked for comments from the students about the use of Twitter. These were almost wholly positive .

One note of criticism was that ” It’s not fair that students who don’t use Twitter have an advantage by getting their views across.” my response to that was , if you think that they are gaining an advantage, then engage!

Another comment was ” You should use Facebook. Students don’t like Twitter”

Actually we ARE using Facebook, all my Tweets are delivered to my Facebook site, and at least two of our  teams use Facebook pages to communicate with one another, as well as Googledocs and , suprise surprise, Blackboard. However I am happy not to use *Facebook directly, as that’s where students tend to hang out and discuss…well everything. And I don’t want to hear everything, I only want to hear about stuff relating  to TWFTV. I don’t have to follow them or find out what they did on Friday night, but I am able to key into their thoughts and comments every time they decide to use the TWFTV  hashtag. I make sure that I do a #TWFTV search once a day , and then RT any interesting material, and also ensure that I act upon any good suggestions. One very interesting corollary to this is that it is many of the most reticent students who use Twitter, the ones who never ask questions in class, the silent majority. Twitter gives them the ability to ask questions and make points without having to intervene at class.

I should add that Twitter is used exclusively as an ADD ON platform to our VLE, Blackboard. All important messages, assessments,dates, pdfs of lectures and the like are posted on Blackboard, and these are supplemented by a weekly videocast from me which you can see on the blog above.

These findings were  presented and discussed at the Student Engagement in Learning & Teaching Forum (SELT) in the classroom of the Future at the University Of The West Of Scotland on Thursday 3rd of March at 10.45 GMT. We carried out a real time discussion with the students and staff, and  demonstrated  a real time Twittter Ticker on display. The idea that a group of students can contribute any where , any time , to a discussion about the delivery of their own teaching and learning is a relatively innovative idea, and one that I will continue if I present the final figures. Another interesting point which came up in discussion is that we fully expect the students to continue engaging in online discussion using #TWFTV after the module has finished. We will archive the searches and use them as a resource for next years class. It may be the case that this cohort of students will carry on this method of feeding back in other classes. Time will tell.

We will continue with the monitoring process as the weeks go by, and share our data and findings in a concluding blog along with a set of  conclusions. We will set up some  focus of groups of the participating  #TWFTV students to delve deeper into their attitudes and reactions to the whole process.

We plan to present the next set of  figures at the April 21st Meeting of TeachMeet at the University Of The West Of Scotland. For details Tweet #tmayr

For a real time update, carry out a #TWFTV search on Twitter right now.

*Having read my blog, Catherine Millar,  a  colleague on Twitter(  @catmill )has just tweeted to tell me that in fact it IS possible to use a new Group facility on Facebook where you can form a group without following it’s members. I find that very interesting so I will follow that up. 0ver 90% of students use Facebook and it may well be that it is a more suitable platform for that reason.  I will be looking at the implications of using Facebook groups to enhance the learning experience soon.

 


Glasgow city centre panorama from Lighthouse t...

Creative View From Glasgow.

The University Of The West Of Scotland’s School of Creative and Cultural Industries Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) is aimed at producing an innovative training video on discrimination at work. The project is designed as bespoke piece of training  for our partners, leading Glasgow law firm, Law at Work, and  is now entering a crucial phase in Week 7.

UWS graduate and KTP Associate Chris Young has delivered a 20 page research dossier on Innovative Training Videos which was discussed at our last  programme meeting at our partner  Law At Work’s  HQ in Glasgow.  This impressive  body of research will provide the creative team  with the theoretical underpinning for the next stage of the process. It is this critical research  based approach which  makes the KTP unique in terms of it’s  impact on our creative educational practice and the service  that we can provide for industrial partners such as Law At Work.

In the light of our discussions, Chris is  now  finalising the shooting script of the web-based  training video.  With a planned screentime of  20 minutes, and a cast of 12, this is a major undertaking for Chris as a first time professional director.  Camera, lighting, sound ,  makeup, and catering have all been finalised for the weekend shoot, and if the script outlines are anything to go by, we are looking forward to a fantastic piece of work from Chris and his production team.

The final draft of the script will be ready by Friday 29th of October,  casting will have been finalised  by Wednesday 3rd November, ready for the shoot on Sat and Sun 6th and 7th of November. The KTP team are taking over the entire floor of Law At Works offices for two days in order to shoot the video.

Post production is slotted in at UWS Ayr for the two weeks after this, with a planned delivery of the final product to our clients Law at Work on 22nd of November. As luck would have it, the filming of the new video takes place at the same time as Law At Work are undertaking a complete re-branding of their website and corporate identity. It  is planned to coordinate the launch of the video with the new website in the new year. The timing for all of this could  not be better.

It has been a challenging process for all involved, particularly since this is the first ever KTP embarked upon by the School Of Creative And Cultural Industries.

These are exciting times for all those involved in this unique project. There’s no doubt that this will  lay down a marker for the sort of creative engagement  with industry  which the UWS Skillset Media Academy plans to roll out in the future.


CREW CALL

Whodathunkit Productions are currently looking for a full crew for their debut feature Humble Players to begin shooting at the end of July. The shoot will be taking place on weekends only for a period of 8 weeks in and around the Glasgow / Cumbernauld area. Although no payment can be made available catering will be provided.

This feature will be taken to film festivals internationally in 2011. An excellent chance to expand your cv and have your work seen by an international audience.

The following key positions are available (please note, while having own equipment is advantageous, it is not essential)

Camera Operators
Sound Engineers
Editor
Composer
Make up
Production Assistant

Any interested parties should email a cv, along with any links to examples of their work and a little information about themselves to

whodathunkit@live.co.uk

Could all interested parties also state in their email whether they possess their own equipment and the specifications of that equipment – Again this will not guarantee automatic interview, merely to allow the company time to source any relevant equipment for successful candidates.
Interviews will be taking place in Mid July.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Derek & James, Whodathunkit Productions
CONTACT derekbamer@hotmail.com

If you are successful in becoming part of the production, please let me know.


It’s always gratifying to see that ones students are doing well. Often, they graduate and you never hear a word till you pick up a paper and see what they are up to.My morning was brightened up by discovering  that Kirkcaldy-based Martin McCormick, who completed his BA Performance Degree at UWS last year is getting rave reviews as David  The Narrator in Gridiron’s  “Decky Does A Bronco” . The production is currently touring outside site specific venues in Fife. Well done Martin.They will be dancing in the streets of Raith tonight.

Decky Does a Bronco is at Lochgelly today, Ballingry tomorrow, and Crosshill on Saturday, East Fife and North-East Scotland until 22 July, Dundee Rep from 23-24 July and at the Edinburgh Fringe, Traverse@Scotland Yard Playground, from 6-21 August.

http://bit.ly/9LydXF


ACTOR REQ’D: 20 something male actor required for urgent audition for lead role in feature film, shooting scheduled for September.

Jason Archer aka Jazz (early to mid twenties, nerdy but handsome). Jazz is intelligent, quiet, somewhat shy and doesn’t have a girlfriend. Through the course of the film, his need to save his business, falling for Lauren and fending off Edison and Jimmy means he has to step up to the plate and become the hero he’s always read about in comics. More info on the film at http://www.electricmanmovie.com.

Get in touch with David Barras (contact details below) and he’ll send you a few pages from a scene to film on your mobile phone and send on after which you may be recalled for audition.

So get on the phone and get filming – it’ll be challenging and fun!
David Barras
all@strangeboat.com
Tel – 0131 476 7211
Mob – 07821 397552
Web – http://www.strangeboat.com
Thanks to Linda at Write Camera Action For this. Let me know how you get on.

Stuart On Twitter

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