Forget the probable distraction it will cause when Paris Hilton twits about her new shoes and all the students in the class are instantly notified. Forget the detached social interaction of sitting behind a computer screen twitting with the twit sitting right next to you. And forget the privacy / security concerns when random lurker guy starts twitting spam to students. The part that concerns me with Twitter the most is the 140 character limit.
Y Shud U care about 140 chars?
All the benefit Twitter can bring to an English classroom will be gone the moment a student runs out of room on his twit, and the only way to shorten it enough is to remove all the commas and apostrophes and then replace real words with shortened forms.
Grammar is getting worse these days and my theory as to why is twofold. First, 100 years ago there was a much greater emphasis on grammar. Of the three or four English classes that you would take in high school, one of them would be grammar. That’s it, just grammar. Second, if you wanted entertainment at home you would read. There weren’t many other options for storytelling when TV and radio weren’t around.
People still read lots today. In fact I would not be surprised if young people read more today, thanks to the internet, than they did 100 years ago. The problem is that they are reading either poorly edited websites, or forums, texts, and status updates which have no grammar rules at all. In the case of Twitter you are almost forced to throw grammar out the window if you have something meaningful to say so that you can stay within the character limit. Maybe we can squeak a Harry Potter novel into young kids if they let their guard down, or we can convince teen girls to read a watered down vampire love story if there is some steamy heartthrob on the cover. In general, however, people today have such short attention spans that “fast entertainment” supersedes reading something truly engaging and thought provoking.
Twitter, for better or worse, is probably here to stay, whether or not it will make it into my classroom remains to be seen. For now, I am joining the twits to see how it goes.