Sunday, March 15, 2009

Will my wife adopt the Wicked Witch as a Twitter icon to reach her students on homework?

My wife doesn't get social media.

At least not yet.

However, that could change with the last six to eight weeks of her current semester. Jackie teaches high school physics at San Antonio James Madison, and she's thinking about using both Twitter and social media marketing to remind her students that they have homework due.

Pete, her step son, suggested that she consider the use of Margaret Hamilton's character as the Wicked Witch of the West as her Twitter icon, along with a snippet of the Witch's theme music.

She loved the concept.

Using Budurl, she could shorten her blog topics on the homework assignment to send out these little reminders such as "Harmonic Motion worksheet due Tuesday" or "Silent Spring Quiz #5 tomorrow" with the details of the assignment posted on her blog.

And, she could also use the app at CrossLink Media to send text messages and Wicked Witch music to her students and her parents, linking a text message to a blog assignment. As we were driving home from church, she questioned the use of sending 100 text messages to students. I assured her that the folks at CrossLink media could set her up with a platform that would allow her to text all of them their assignments with a single message.

As an encouragement for her students, hovering around the just passing rate of 70 or under it at 65 or so, I suggested she give 10 extra credit points to students who give her a phone number or connect with her on Twitter. I also suggested an additional 10 points for students who give their parent's cell phones or Twitter handles.

All we need is a major government grant to study the use of Twitter by educators. As President Obama noted in a recent address to Congress:

"Progress toward this goal requires a race to the top to reform our nation’s schools. It requires holding schools accountable for helping all students meet world-class standards aligned to the demands of the 21st century workforce. It requires solutions for schools to close the achievement gap, and strategies to accelerate the learning of those that are the furthest behind. It requires new reforms to promote effective teaching and attract the best and brightest into the profession. It requires a national strategy to confront America’s persistent dropout crisis, and strengthen transitions to college and care."
Surely, the use of social media tools by educators makes sense. However, technology companies have to take the time to train educators like my wife on the value statement involved with using them to communicate to their students and their parents.   Perhaps, social media mavens could set up a "tweetup" for teachers so they can understand the full capability of tools like Twitter, Budurl and CrossLink as a way to let their students know of impending deadlines for homework.  Nothing like an electronic nag to raise test scores, hey? (says the wife).

(Full disclosure:  Budurl and CrossLink Media are clients of mine.   However, the use of these kinds of tools make a lot of sense to teachers who spend a lot of time tracking down parents of students who are failing a class.)

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