It’s been ever thus. Still, my student but aren’t there yet. We’ve been running our Twitter–as–a–note–taking–tool experiment for a couple weeks and this past Thursday we saw the first people from outside our class jump in on our conversation. I was tremendously excited (and remain grateful to those who are willing to give some time to students they don’t even know–a testament, I think, to the passion and commitment of great teachers.) The students, however, did not respond at all.
I see two plausible explanations for this behaviour. They are probaly both at work:
One, it could be they just aren’t used to the etiquette on Twitter. Considering most of them had not used Twitter before we started it in class, this can be excused. When, I explained that it was customary to thank those who share ideas and resources they jumped in with thank you notes.
But still, they didn’t really engage. That brings me to the second possibility–and I suspect this is the better explanation: It simply doesn’t occur to them that someone uninvited might have something to contribute to the day’s discussion in particular and to their learning in general. After all, my Grade 11 and 12 students have spent all their years of schooling with only one “teacher” in the room with them. Learning has for them never been a collaborative process. Moreover, students in general are often disciplined for not paying attention to the (one) teacher.
So is this Twitter phenomenon just circumstantial, or is our work on Twitter revealing deeper patterns of behaviour? I’m curious to hear my students thoughts on this so I’m sending this post to them with an offer to comment. Stay tuned…