I tweet with my students, forming an imagined community beyond our classroom. I tweet with teachers I know and teachers I met via Twitter, forming an imagined community beyond our universities and schools. I talk with my colleagues in the halls, after meetings, at lunch, over coffee. And over the past couple of days, those communities, “real” and imagined, collided.
It started on Wednesday when a comp student tweeted during class that it was a waste of time.
Not what any of us want to read. What made it rather fascinating was that the student made this remark on our class Twitter stream, knowing I would read it.
Or did she?
The next day, I got a similar tweet from a different student in a different class.
She laughed it off — although two lols seemeth to protest too much — but I saw this tweet while I was in the Center for Teaching and Learning on campus for a 20-Minute Mentor session. I stayed after the session to show my wonderful friends/colleagues, Janet Land and Emily Robertson. We talked. They suggested. They listened. They showed me tech tricks and shared strategies for coping. At the end of our talk, I had the foundation for a workshop to lead through CETL and a renewed confidence that what I’m doing is working, in spite of a couple of tweets.
So my questions — How does social media, like Twitter, function in the classroom to create an imagined community? How do professors foster that community? Or do we allow it to grow organically from student input and effort? What happens when students forget audience and say something offensive to the professor or to classmates? How do we set up “rules’ while allowing Twitter to be a space for play and creativity? How do we created/foster backchannels that work?
So thank you students for giving me a research topic and a question to inform my teaching.