Whatever side of the filtering issue you stand on (block everything or let everything open), one thing is for sure, social networking tools like Twitter definitely engage our students. Now, whether they engage them educationally or not is another question, one we face in our school district. About a year ago, we moved to unblock Twitter. We figured there was no Federal or State law forbidding it and many teachers wanted to use it for pen pals, subject matter experts, or in so many other ways. Now we have a principal asking to block it for students. Thankfully we have support from the top, but should we block it? Is there educational value?
In a study by the National Survey of Student Engagement, students were measured twice during a semester in classes that did and did not incorporate Twitter. Students who used it, used it to post questions, continue class discussions, comment on class readings, and more. Pretty routine way of how we use Moodle and CMSs these days. The interesting thing, however, is that those using Twitter showed twice the engagement of the control group. Even more interesting, they also achieved a .5 higher GPA. Hmm, I cannot wait to show my principal, and all our principals, this. I always say, as do so many others, we need to educate our students by their means. We can try to use 20th century means, and we will be right back where we started–disinterested students, low scores, lowering support of the general public. Or we can try something else. This study shows some potential. Who will accept it?