Back in 2009, a creative teacher from Ontario, Canada decided there need to be more free online resources for educators. This teacher then built upon the ideas behind social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook, and thus twiducate was formed. However, the ultimate goal for twiducate is not just to simply serve as a resource for teachers, but to provide a medium for students to continue their learning outside the classroom and prepare them for web 2.0 world.
One of the main benefits of twiducate is it allows teachers to create a virtual classroom, that is also private as only students and parents invited by the teacher can join and view classroom posts. Likewise, while other sites offer little content control for teachers, twiducate enables teachers to create the content themselves and tailor it to the needs of their students. It also circumvents the need for school administration and firewall prevention since the content is monitored by the teacher for the use of his or her students only.
Jeff Dunn, Executive Editor of edudemic.com further explains that this format is excellent for students and teachers alike, as they can share ideas across the platform. Teachers can post homework, test dates, and other assignments or reference materials, making it easy for students to keep track of their assignments. In addition, teachers can create questions for students to answer to test their knowledge of subject matter covered in class. Alternatively, they can post a discussion question, allowing students a safe place to discuss current events or other topics.
Twiducate also uses a Twitter-like format that is excellent for introducing new concepts, micro-blogging and writing assignments. In fact, the New York Times Learning blog suggests using it as a way to stimulate creative writing. For instance, teachers can have a class to write a novel collectively by providing an introductory sentence and then encouraging each student to add on a single line. However this isn’t the only way educators can utilize the site to teach students to write creatively. Teachers can also assign an essay on current events, but limit the assignment to the Twitter maximum of 140 characters to inspire concise writing. Teachers interested in incorporating these types of activities may also want to explore sites such as Online Teaching Degree as well as PBS.com, which provide a number of lesson plans as well as useful tips for teachers.
Dunn adds that the benefits of twiducate extend beyond providing educators with more tools for teaching. Since the website acts as an extension of the classroom, students can collaborate on projects and share ideas outside of school. By simply logging on the site, students have the ability to track class work or post questions about homework to the teacher or other students. However, by far the best benefit is the privacy twiducate affords to students. Unlike other social networking sites where posts can be viewed by nearly everyone, often creating an outlet for cyber-bulling or cyber-stalking, posts on twiducate are only accessible to a student’s teacher and classmates.
Clearly twiducate has great potential as a tool for teachers and a safe place for students to exchange ideas in an open forum. This format may be more conducive to learning than the traditional classroom model since the distractions and time constraints are removed. As more educators join the site and share their ideas, the potential ways of utilizing the technology are as varied as the site’s visitors.
Alicia Moore has always loved to learn and is working toward earning a teaching degree. She is particularly interested in how the advent of the Internet and technology are changing the educational landscape. When she is not exploring the future of education, Alicia enjoys writing about literature, languages and online resources for teachers.