Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Classroom Twitter Hiccups

On our second day of using Twitter to be the voice of something in nature we stumbled upon two flies in the ointment.

Hiccup #1:
Twitter limits how many searches come out of your account.  It seems to be done on an hourly basis.  Since I teach the first three consecutive periods of the day, my third period class hit a wall with the iPads searching on the network.  My students were exploring various hashtags related to the environment and the natural world.  We will be supplying a voice for various animals, insects, plants, and natural resources on social media--but, first, we need to see what is out there, what are people writing about, and then make our choices.

Curiously, the students using Twitter on the desktop did not face this limit and Twitter worked just fine from those stations all day.  We only used nine active stations serving groups of three or four: six iPads and three desktops.  The issue cropped during the early stages of third period, around 9:40am after having used it on and off starting at 7:50.

Troubleshooting the situation afterward, we came across this statement at Twitter:

In order to control abuse, Twitter limits how often you can search from a single network address. At corporations, events, and conferences, it is common for many people to share the same network address. In some of these cases, our rate limiting may be too strict.

If you see the following error message when using Twitter search, please help us improve our service by clicking 'let us know' and filling out the pop-up form.

It does appear that Twitter will provide a solution for us, but in the meantime I will need to limit or restructure how my students use Twitter.  I will update the blog with any adjustments or suggestions offered by Twitter.
Hiccup #2
Even after an introduction on the first day, complete with visual projection of the iPad screen, Twitter, and using hashtags and a whole class walk-through on the second day with the same visuals and same hashtag exploration, I found a small percentage of students (10%) who said, "I don't understand what we're doing."

The hurdle, as I pressed for clarification, is how they currently see social media.  It's social.  A few faced brain-lock on the concept of using social-media as a way to research, learn, and connect for more than chuckles and good times.

Many of the students adapted--one even offered "This is fun!" as she typed her (approved) tweet on the plight of some creature.  I still walked away dwelling on the 10% who struggled with the concept of what we were doing.  This is definitely something I will continue to press with my students to make sure they understand the power they hold in their hands by being able to access information and access connections to real-world issues in real-time.

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