Can ‘real life situations’ be recreated in social media?
When I ran the exam preparation buffet a couple of weeks ago, the greatest ‘take away’ for the students seemed to have been peer support and getting advice from students who were from higher years. For instance the 2nd year student providing crucial tips on institute specific exam organisation to 1st year students.
From Classroom to Tweet
In my other institution I did not have the chance to bring students from across the years together. So I was wondering, if I could recreate this positive effect via social media—as third space, so to speak. I choose Twitter as tool because it is easy to use, sign up, and integrates easily into PowerPoint or VLEs. (Edit 2021: this exercise also supports the development of meta-cognitive skills in students as they are encouraged to reflect about what has helped their own learning).
Moving the physical classroom space into the virtual realm featured more hurdles than anticipated. For one: fewer students than expected had Twitter accounts, neither have the colleagues I planned on involving. Some of the students who already had Twitter accounts, suddenly realised the publicity of their accounts. There seemed to have been an illusion of privacy, which necessitated a brief on ‘social media 101’.
However, not all was bad in the Twitterverse. Some of the students who saw Twitter in action, realised how helpful it could be for their studies and career development. All students were happy to use the ‘real life’ (aka yellow sticky notes) substitute to share their tips with other students, and permitted me to tweet on their behalf, and low and behold I had a couple of students tweeting during the session. Last but not least I used Twitter as incentive to finally try out Storify.
The venture will continue next semester. The answer to my initial question so far: potentially.