Loosely patterning their collaborative work after lesson study, the teachers created lesson plans incorporating use of Twitter mostly outside of class. Teachers’ tweets offered students links to articles illustrating concepts, material to prepare in specific ways for class sessions, and tips on coursework and upcoming exams, in a more immediate way than the VLE — via notification on their smartphones. Students generally responded well to these encouragements toward self-guided and independent learning outside of class time, and their resulting preparation enabled lively engagement during class. Finally, teachers discussed with the students and with each other how effective the ‘Twitter-enhanced class sessions’ were, and the use of Twitter as an initiative was evaluated.
Using Twitter as a tool to flip the classroom was partially inspired by examples of other secondary school teachers (November & Mull, 2012). As for flipping the classroom itself, the Speak Up 2014 National Research Project found that of all digital learning approaches which have had positive results, the flipped classroom was cited by 48% of respondents. Use of videos, simulations, and animations were cited by 84% of participants as successfully-used digital learning approaches (Flipped_Learning_Network, 2015). In our case study, pupils commented that it was especially the graphics, charts, infographics, and videos linked to tweets which they appreciated for their study at home, in addition to the way these engaging materials were accessible so immediately and naturally on their own mobile phones, via Twitter.
Teachers valued the chance to discuss, design together these initiatives, and to have each other for support in the initiative. Relative newcomers to Twitter welcomed support from those more experienced. In addition to improving their own Twitter skills, teachers found they must examine other issues of digital literacy and digital divide, in considering whether students had access to Twitter and whether the college VLE could adequately provide the tweets to those pupils who did not want to begin Twitter accounts. Independent work in Twitter by some students was used as evidence of independent learning in their personal statements. This work was part of a project funded by ESRC, an outcome of which was the crafting of a Social Media Charter for school pupils, with a view that pupils may enjoy social media for both independent and in-class learning if digital literacy is addressed with a more positive and collaborative view.
Flipped_Learning_Network (2015) Flipped Learning continues to trend for third year, Lake Forest, IL, [online] Available from: http://flippedlearning.org/cms/lib07/VA01923112/Centricity/Domain/4/Speak Up FLN 2014 Survey Results FINAL.pdf.
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Meyer, B., Haywood, N., Sachdev, D. and Faraday, S. (2008) What is independent learning and what are the benefits for students?, London, [online] Available from: http://www.curee.co.uk/files/publication/%5Bsite-timestamp%5D/Whatisindependentlearningandwhatarethebenefits.pdf (Accessed 30 March 2015).
November, A. and Mull, B. (2012) ‘Twitter as a Powerful Educational Tool’, November Learning Website, [online] Available from: http://novemberlearning.com/educational-resources-for-educators/teaching-and-learning-articles/how-twitter-can-be-used-as-a-powerful-educational-tool/ (Accessed 4 June 2015).