Last fall, I began to weave Twitter into the activities in my Building Online Community with Social Media class. This is a class I’ve taught for @One for years and my students are primarily college faculty. I honestly had no idea if any student in that class would realize the significance of Twitter. I had hopes that they would but, like any experimentation, I realized it would be hit or miss. I have one terrific success story I’d like to share.
In that Fall 2010 class, one student approached me directly and shared her reluctance about using Twitter. She was concerned about privacy in the open Twitter landscape. First, I applauded her concern. I advise my students, “If you wouldn’t shout it from the rooftops, don’t tweet it.” I encouraged her to give Twitter a try and also encouraged her not to share anything she didn’t feel comfortable sharing. She took that advice and began to tweet and follow others with like interests — and some pretty incredible results surfaced.
Her name is Ana and she teaches part-time for several colleges. Since she became part of the Twitter community, she shared that she has developed a rich sense of community and a sense of belonging that she didn’t have before. She told me she feels “less alone” in her teaching and, honestly, I’ve been pretty amazed with the types of innovations she’s implementing into her biology classes. Along with becoming a Twitter user, @Bio_prof, she also started her own blog which you can check out for yourself and learn along with her. She has truly experienced the value and importance of sharing and giving — the two intertwined components of being part of a community.
Ana’s story is evidence that participation in social media is a first step in innovating our teaching approaches.Do you have a similar story? We’d love to hear it!