Technology as Passport: Degrees of Separation and Movement of Ideas

Hi all,

I wanted to offer some thoughts on using technology as a passport into a different kind of educational space. This isn’t a new space that I’m outlining – many people teach within and slightly outside of its boundaries every day. Recently, though, I entered it as a panel participant at a huge conference, and I’m now converted to its educational qualities and its potential for helping and even creating classroom discussion (as well as for retweeting band announcements and cute animal pictures – I’m human, after all).

I’m talking about using Twitter, very explicitly, as a learning tool. Last month at the Conference on College Composition and Communication, my subfield’s biggest conference and never referred to as anything other than 4 Cs, Twitter took me through more of the conference than I ever could have attended on my own. I “snuck in” different sessions using their hashtags and was able to start conversations about presentations I wasn’t attending with folks who were actually there, and sometimes with presenters, too. (It felt illicit, but there were lots of us doing it!)

Session leaders were tasked with the theme of “Risk and Reward.” Part of the risk of my own session was the number of presenters: six students, including me, presented reflections on a course we had taken with the GC’s Sondra Perl. Called Writing with the Body, the course took us through several different ways of thinking about and doing embodied writing, all circling around the idea of multimodality and digital composition. 

Part of our project was to involve the audience using Twitter. You can check out what they (and we) came up with here:

The use of livetweeting in our session as well as my “sneaking” in other sessions made me think about Twitter as a real time educational space. What would it be like to have students livetweet a class, as some of my colleagues do? How would note taking change if observations were limited to 140 characters? How might students interact with each other differently than in the physical space of the room? The Twitter feed of a class could be read as a map, it seems to me, leading from the space of the room itself (and the discussion itself) outward to other educational spaces, just as my “sneaking” did at Cs.