Friday, September 24, 2010

I can has Twitter?

So the assignment this week was to sign up for twitter and I must say it was not without controversy.  There appears to be a lot of resistance to Twitter from the class for various reasons.  Some just plain don’t like Twitter; others fail to see the relevance for a classroom setting.  Even after being shown a video about the beneficial uses of twitter in the class, I am not without my reservations.

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.



  1. I think your point about grammar is a serious concern if using Twitter in the classroom. One of my biggest pet peeves is bad grammar and I agree that it has been getting worse, especially with the younger, technology-immersed generation.
    PS: Your title is awesome.

  2. Great post Blake! Very interesting- I hadn't even thought about Twitter and its character limit from a grammatical perspective! And so very true that students are learning much of their common grammar from poorly-written's so sad.

  3. You have made such a good point here, Blake! I tutor some middle school students, and this is a real concern. They put 'u' instead of 'you' and do not understand why it is NOT okay to put that in an essay. I don't even think they realize they are doing it; it has just become second nature to them. And using Twitter would in class may only serve to reinforce these bad habits.

  4. I totally agree! I have one big text/online problem... I say 'u' instead of you. A friend of mine started me on it a long time ago.

    But yes, you are so right. I bet MORE kids read now than they did before, however, it is not always 'good' writing. But let's not forget, there are a lot of editor errors in books today! Nobody is perfect!

    I can also see how twitter is ruining lives by making kids shorten their ideas to a few phrases/letters.