I presented at the Southeastern Massachusetts College Writing Conference today. Here’s my presentation and my interactive handout with a few resources and all 5 ideas:
Resources: Set up RSS feeds for these blogs to find other ways to use technology is your classroom:
New York Times Learning Network
Prof Hacker (Chronicle of Higher Ed)
EdTech News Blog (Eric LePage)
Wired Campus (Chronicle)
Twitter: “Just start using it – sooner or later it will make sense and, after that, it will get addictive,” a friend told me when I signed up for the micro-blogging site and wondered why. It took 2+ years for it to make sense and that only happened once I saw what our students were doing with it, but now I can’t stop thinking of ways to use Twitter as a teaching tool.
1. Use the 140-character limit to help students develop efficient writing skills and practice writing in active voice.
2. Promote/discuss student writing published on the Web.
3. Note optional/supplemental reading and/or current events related to course.
4. Allow students to form quick, informal peer-editing and study groups.
5. Encourages students to build vocabulary to better convey complex thoughts within 140-character limit.
6. Quietly discuss films or lectures as they are happening.
7. Use Twitter to stress the benefits of “less is more.”
8. Show how comments on a link or re-tweet can impact the reader’s opinion on the subject.
9. Allow students to share answers to problems and questions posed in class: in writing classes, for example, I can have students write six-word stories or edit a sentence that needs revision.
10. Follow the Twitter feeds of writers and authors whose work is being studied in class.
Blogs: The good old Web log (and by “old” in internet parlance, we mean 13-years-old) is not a passé medium. Requiring or at least encouraging your students to blog allows them to experience writing for an audience broader than you and a handful of classmates in their peer-editing groups.
11. Have students keep individual blogs as journals to record thoughts, reading responses and ideas to potentially develop into more formal writing assignments.
12. Use blogs to encourage students to write daily with a series of prompts.
13. Have students keep a blog as an online portfolio to share work from your course and other courses.
14. Encourage students to read blogs to find differing viewpoints on topics they may choose to write about.
YouTube: According to one survey, more than half of all college professors have used YouTube as a substitute for the traditional DVD or VCR when they wanted to show a video or clip in class. But YouTube can be more than just a handy video library.
15. Look for bias or differing points of view in coverage of a subject by different news organization.
16. Use YouTube clips of interviews to have students work on note taking and quoting in simulated interview sessions.
17. Have students write, cast, film and edit a one-scene screenplay.
18. Find interviews or other video material of writers the class is studying.
19. Have students read and record creative writing or poetry and set it to images, video clips and music.
Google: If your students are only using Google as a search engine, your students are missing out.
20. Require students to submit drafts as Google Docs, which makes it easier for you (and students assigned to peer edit the draft) to make edits, notes and comments.
21. Use Google Reader (or another RSS reader) to track news feeds and automatically compile an RSS stream of articles students can write responses to for homework assignments.
22. Use Google Sites to build wikis for students collaborating on a group project.
23. Map novels with Google Earth.
24. Use Google Sites as a substitute for Blackboard or to quickly build a Web site to serve as a central information point for each of your classes.
25. Create forms in Google Docs that students can use as peer-editing worksheets.
Wikipedia: Lift your ban on using WikiPedia. Students are going to use it anyhow and one study found the articles are as accurate as the entries in Britannica (and usually more up-to-date). Take time to show students how to use WikiPedia as a preliminary source instead of a primary source and have them take on some of these exercises to really understand its pros and cons.
26. Use references in a WikiPedia entry as a starting point to build a literature review for a research paper.
27. Assign students a Wikipedia entry to fact check for accuracy.
28. Have students research and write (or rewrite) a Wikipedia entry on a topic that does not exist or is in need of an update.
29. Use WikiPedia to conduct quick background research for another reading assignment (The Diary of Anne Frank, for example, is easier for students to put into context if they have more information on the Holocaust).
30. While not usable as primary source material, WikiPedia is a great preliminary source and its entries can be helpful in developing lists of keywords to search in more traditional research databases.
Delicious: I was one of the many users who breathed easier when Yahoo backed off a plan to shut it down and instead inked a deal to sell it to the founders of YouTube. After Google, this is my most frequently used, free Web research and organization tool.
31. Post links to course documents and other course materials.
32. Build an online textbook.
33. Quickly save and make notes on links of online articles for research papers.
34. When tagging an article during online research, see what articles other Delicious users have tagged to expand your research base.
Flickr/Photo-Sharing Sites: You can also check out Google’s Picasa site. I like Flickr (their spelling, not mine) because you can browse photos from people you do not know and many are professional quality.
35. Use photos as visual aids to explain complex subjects.
36. Have students compile a photo essay as part of a writing project.
37. Have small groups of 3-5 students write descriptively about photos of similar objects (landscapes, portraits, buildings, etc.). Have other students try to match the description to the photo it was written about.
38. Use a pre- or randomly-selected photo as a writing prompt.
39. Play a photo slide show as students work on free writing exercises. In my experience, this helps shake some creativity out of students who are prone to write “I having nothing to write about” over and over for the five-minute exercise.
Other Ideas: Admittedly, some of these stretch the limits of what we define as “social media.” Our main objective, however, is to put writing into a context and onto platforms your students may be more comfortable with and, in turn, make the writing process more accessible.
40. Students can use Prezi or another online presentation editor to build portfolios or visual resumes.
41. Use online and library data sources to track a word or phrase and see how its use evolves, expands and diminishes over time. Do sites like Twitter and Facebook drive that change?
42. Have the class find and analyze LinkedIn profiles of working writers, editors and journalists to see how they built their careers.
43. Have a research scavenger hunt where students answer questions that are not easily answered with a simple Google search (i.e. “Find the only three countries in the world where you cannot purchase Coca-Cola”).
44. Use sites like Politifact or FactCheck to find statements by politicians that have been debunked, then look to see where they have been repeated unchallenged or presented as factual by news organizations and bloggers.
45. Explore and compare all of the resources available on RefDesk to resources and databases available through the college library’s Web site.
46. Take a Google Lit Trip, or plan a field trip with online resources to see the settings of books being studied in class.
47. Use Collaboratize Classroom or the discussion area of sites like Blackboard to hold extra-help sessions, peer-editing workshops or make-up classes.
What? No Facebook? I view Facebook as more of a contact manager than anything else, and find there are specific social networks that focus on all of the individual things Facebook tries to do and, ultimately, does them better than Facebook (YouTube videos, for example, are easier to search and play better on a wide range of browsers, while Flickr allows me to browse a wide range of photos – not just the portraits or random group shots I see on Facebook).
That said, there are a few potential ways you may be able to use Facebook in your writing classes.
48. Facebook’s journalist pages are relatively new, but may be worth following to see how working writers and reporters use them and other types of social media in their work.
49. The lists and notes that circulate on Facebook (“50 Things About Me,” “10 Books That Changed My Life,” etc.) can offer quick writing prompts and easy assignments for students looking for something to post on a class blog.
50. Find a volunteer (or use your own profile) who has a Facebook page were non-friends can see some but not all of the facts a person displays on Facebook. Based on those facts, have them try write a short biography of that person to see how far off they are.
Questions? Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow me on Twitter @bloodandvolume. Please keep me posted on how you use social media in your writing classes so we can expand this list.