The growing popularity of Twitter in South Africa, and its adoption by teenagers (who tell me they use twitter to follow celebrities) opens up some spaces for using twitter within the classroom. It was very interesting to me to watch the events in Libya earlier this year unfold on twitter. Even cabinet ministers admitted to using twitter for intelligence gathering purposes, and it seems to me that it is this sense of immediacy that you get with twitter that makes it a valuable classroom tool.
I did a current affairs exercise with a class a few months ago, just as the events in Libya were hitting the headlines. On the interactive whiteboard I used tweetdeck to follow a special twitter account I had created which was subscribed to several Arab Spring twitter feeds, and we used the tweets that came up to discuss the events that were happening: democracy, women’s rights, popular uprisings and so on.
What I found greatly fascinating was the extent to which news tended to break on twitter, news which hit the news broadcasts many hours later. This sense of urgency, immediacy and relevance gave the discussions an edge I have never felt before in a classroom.
The great benefit of twitter is its application for current research. the kids know this, and this is why they use it to keep tabs on celebrities, but it is a great tool for current events!