Math Teachers – Facebook or Twitter?

September 24, 2010 at 7:28 am Leave a comment

It’s funny – lately I have had several conversations with instructors about using Facebook and Twitter in the classroom. I have been asked which I prefer, and my answer depends on the level of the class and the computer skills of the students in the class.

Facebook

This is definitely the easier way to go. Many students already have Facebook accounts, so it is convenient. They are familiar with the interface, they know how to find new posts, they know how to make a post, and they most likely know how to attach a photo to a post. Being able to attach a photo allows students to attach their work on a problem if they are looking to get some help from their classmates.

Facebook also works well as a replacement for the traditional discussion board. I have my students, in groups, answer writing/discussion questions in my Facebook group. Other students can look through the posts of other students and critique them.

By the way, I have a Facebook account that is set up for professional activities – I use it for my friends across the country that are instructors and my publishing contacts. I use this account to create Facebook groups for my classes. My students can join the groups without becoming my Facebook friend, which is a line I have chosen not to cross.

In the Facebook groups I post summaries of class sessions, homework assignments, etc. I also use it to post links to videos I have created for my students.

Twitter

Twitter can accomplish the same tasks, but it is not as easy to get started. First, very few of my students have Twitter accounts, so getting them up and running takes some time and effort. Second, for students to be able to share photos of their work requires the use of a secondary program such as Jing/Screencast. Third, students have to be able to track down information through a search as oposed to finding it all on one page in Facebook.

As the level of the class & the computer abilities of the students rise, the easier these problems are to overcome. At that point they can use the power of Twitter to connect with others outside of the class, which is one of the major strengths of Twitter. I use Twitter all of the time to connect with my PLN – a group of teachers from all over the world. They keep me up with new technologies, instructional strategies, ..

Summary

I prefer Facebook to Twitter, but either web site can be used to improve student understanding and learning.

Do you have a preference? Stand up for your favorite. Please leave a comment, or you can reach me through the contact page on my website .

-George

I am a mathematics instructor at College of the Sequoias in Visalia, CA. Each Friday I will blog about technology, inside and outside of the classroom. Let me know if there are other topics you’d like me to cover by leaving a comment or by reaching me through the contact page on my website.

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