Twitter and the First Year of College
How useful is Twitter? A while back I blogged about how I plan to delve into the world of Twitter to see how it can be integrated into my work with first year programs at Babson College. The summer seems like a good time to provide a progress report.
After some experimenting with my own account, the DeanRMajor twitter account was launched in March 2009 and promoted on the New Student Website. The account has amassed a respectable following. One of the first experiments with the @DeanRMajor account was to “tweet” our annual student FME presentations in April. This was learning experience, but I think it was a successful first attempt at using Twitter to reach a broader audience. I used the hash tag #BabsonFME while tweeting the presentations. When classes resume in the fall, I will continue to identify appropriate events to Tweet in the first year program at Babson.
I have been having conversations about how to use twitter in the classroom. There has been some experimentation going on at other institutions such as the University of Texas, along with some great dialogue with our CITG (Curriculum Innovation and Technology, @mjmcport) department on emerging best practices. I will use what I have learned this summer and try to integrate this into my First Year Seminar class in the fall.
Some other observations on Twitter:
Students are adopting Twitter at a somewhat measured pace, there are some power users and early adopters, but I think there are many more still trying determine the value before jumping in too deep.
Faculty and Staff are also moving into Twitter with caution. There are concerns (as with Facebook) about appropriate boundaries with students.
The Babson alumni that I am following are typiclly active users of Twitter, and it has been great to be able to use this tool as a way to keep connected with them.
It does take time to appreciate the power of Twitter; it can be easy to dismiss if you only take a cursory look at the application. If you stick with it, the potential really becomes evident. A simple example would be the “Saved Searches”, it is really fascinating to see how often, and it what context Babson College is mentioned on Twitter.
I asked a current Babson student, @jmondo (via Twitter of course) to comment on his experience with Twitter and his response was “Some of the most insightful news, business advice, and reasons to get out of bed I find on Twitter.”
In an educational environment, I think Twitter has great potential. The Babson community is generally very willing to test new ideas. I am excited to see how the community embraces this rapidly evolving social media tool this fall.