Coordinating a class project with Twitter

When I was told that we would be doing a class-wide group project/presentation on social media adoption and uses, I was excited.  Class presentations are fun, and I’m okay with group work.  When I was told next that we would have to coordinate this whole thing using only Twitter, some of that excitement abated.  I like Twitter and all, but I just didn’t know how this was going to work.

Jumping to the end of the story … did we do a class presentation?  Yes.  Did it turn out okay?  Yes.  Was there lots of good information shared by several groups offering their unique perspectives?  Yes.  Was this a group of graduate level students who work hard and know how to do presentations?  You bet.  Was the success do to super smooth and coordinated tweeting?  Not so much.

While stories abound of flash mobs and revolutions coordinated solely on Twitter, we never really found our groove.  I can think of several reasons for that:

  • the technology is new to many in the class
  • some people just did not participate actively
  • because it is new we did not utilize programs like Hootsuite to keep track of everything
  • we did not utilize the class hashtag consistently
  • we did not create a unique hashtag for the event
  • the medium itself is not built for nuanced discussions because of its 140 character limit.

The class is filled with smart and capable people, and I’m sure this exercise would/will run much smoother if we did it again.  But this time can be chalked up to a “learning experience”.

That evening while we were presenting Dr. V pointed out that people have used this medium to coordinate revolutions and topple governments.  I’ve been reflecting on this statement and the similarities and differences of coordinating an academic group presentation and beckoning a mob of civil malcontents.  Perhaps we should also have a class project in which we foment revolution … Hmmm?  =)


Filed under Reflections

5 responses to “Coordinating a class project with Twitter

  1. Any task benefits from using the right tools for that project. You can’t build a birdhouse with a sewing machine. I think when you are talking about a social movement the actions being coordinated are generally much broader than what’s needed to coordinate a class project. The role that Twitter plays is that of a broadcast medium announcing where to go and important events than an actual tool for coordination.

  2. I agree with your points! I also think that to organize a revolution, one must organize around a shared and passionate, deeply held value or truth (if I can go that far). A class project does not rouse that type of response for me.

    I would also add to your list that we don’t each other very well. If we were assigned this project next week, I would hope we would have better results because of everything you listed and an increased familiarity with one another.

  3. Of course, there are huge differences between coordinating a class project and a revolution. So no, we won’t do a revolution, just a flash mob, maybe 😉

    I typically use this assignment to force people to jump into Twitter. So, that learning outcome has been somewhat accomplished. Honestly, it’s worked a bit better in the past, but that’s OK.

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