22 June 2010

Twiducate

A couple of weeks ago the buzz on Twitter was about a new social media tool that is taking the world of education by storm. www.twiducate.com is fantastically simple to setup and an amazingly easy to manage social media platform created for teachers by teachers. It's a kind of a cross between a forum, a blog and Twitter.

What I like about Twiducate:
  1. To open an account, type in your email address, a password and a few details and you have a completely private classroom.
  2. Create additional private classrooms.
  3. Setup student accounts - type in a name and a password is automatically generated - no emails required!
  4. Post links to useful resources on the class page - dictionaries, websites, etc.
  5. See who is online
  6. Embed photos and videos easily
  7. Amend and delete posts and comments
  8. Minimum learner training to use.
It has almost everything you need for a private classroom social network.  There are a couple of things I'd like to see added:
  1. Tagging options - so that you can organise content by topic or another criteria. 
  2. The ability to upload content directly - to showcase student videos, photos, etc.  At the moment you can embed but that means you need to upload content elsewhere on the net. 
Twiducate is only about 6 months old so they are still adding new features.  Maybe these options will be added in the future.

I used this in class for the first time last week as an end of course activity. It was with a class of 8 to 10 year olds - they were not all my own students.  Because it was the end of the year, I invited another class to join us.  I had originally planned for my own students to add their own avatars and use their own names but because of the last minute I didn't have time to assign logons to other students joining the class.  Instead, this is what I did:

1.  Showed the students Twiducate on the whiteboard and elicited what it was.  Some knew about Messenger and thought it might be similar.
2.  After giving out logons and passwords and showing the kids how to log on, I typed a question and showed them how to type their reply as a comment.  At this stage I wasn't focusing on accuracy - the main focus was on learning how to use Twiducate.
3.  I showed them the home icon (to refresh).  I typed another question and asked them all to respond again.  This time I asked them to check their spelling, capital letters, etc.
4.  After a further question from me, I invited one student to type a question and asked the other students to comment in reply.
5.  Finally, all students typed questions and commented on each others questions in reply.

This was a very simple activity with minimal preparation (although I had already set up the classroom and created logins for students).  Within 30 minutes all the students were using Twiducate confidently and easily.  More importantly they were enjoying it and checking that their questions and responses where correct before posting them.  It wasn't long before some of the kids were experimenting with language they'd learned over the year and producing more complex language.

Although it was clear that some students had very little experience of using a computer, and were perhaps a little bit more stressed than other students in the beginning, the feedback from the children was that they enjoyed the activity and would like to do it again.

Generally, the class was successful, but I do think it would have been more fun for them to have their own logon names and avatars to personalise it.  I also feel I should have added some pictures somewhere to make it more colourful.

I was very impressed with how easy Twiducate is to use for both the teacher and younger learners.  I think this will be a useful addition to classroom resources next year for younger students.

    2 comments:

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