‘Tweaching’ tomorrow at UMass Dartmouth

By SNCR Senior Fellow Shel Israel

Tomorrow morning, I’ll be taking part in what I think is a very engaging experiment and perhaps breaking some new ground. At 8 am Pacific time I will live “tweach” a class led by SNCR Senior Fellow Dr. Nora Barnes at UMass Dartmouth. There’s a few special twists for me. The school is located less than 15 miles from where I was raised in New Bedford, Ma. The opening of the university was among my first bylined storis as a reporter in nearby Fall River, Ma. Dr. Barnes and I have come to know each other through our mutual involvement with SNCR.

But all that is pretty much aside. What I love is this is that I get to talk with students. Through their questions I get to earn what is on their mind regarding Twitter and social media. Like many people, I would love to spend more time as a guest instructor, but school have little budget for people like me where travel costs are involved.

I’m sure what we do tomorrow will have a few glitches and bumps, because as far as I know, no one has tried to guest instruct a class via Twitter before. My hope, though, is that others watch what we do then try something like this themselves. Take what I do with 35 students at UMass Dartmouth and refine it. This may be a new way to remotely talk with people who want to learn.

The set up is pretty simple. Dr. Barnes will introduce me at approximately 8 am. Students will tweet questions to me and tag them with #UMD. I will answer all that I can in the course of an hour. The students will watch primarily via search, at the #UMD hashtag site, so they can see wha their classmates have asked.

If I do not have time to answer all questions asked, as is likely, then I will answer them in small batches over the course of the next few days. Students will see them either by following me or by checking the #UMD hashtag page.

If this interests you, please observe it tomorrow. If I get stuck on a question I may ask observers if they can help, but for the most part, I want to give the hour to these students.

To make certain we get off to a good start, I asked the students to send me a few advance questions and I am impressed with the quality of the ones that have come in so far. Here are a few examples:

* Stacey Boyd wants to know how Twitter can help students find a job after they graduate. That will take 3 tweets to dent the surface and then a follow up email.
* Rachel Whaley-Grant would like to hear how Twitter is different from Facebook, a question that is not as easy to answer as it used to be.
* Kerry Gallagher asked how to find stuff on Twitter that is relevant to her as an individual.
* Sade Cabral went beyond Twitter to ask the differences between an online-only company and one that is both online and real world.

If this is an example of the questions I hear tomorrow, then it is going to be a very valuable hour. I’ll begin by answering these as best I can, then opening it up to the rest of the class. Think I’d better do some homework before school starts.

The preceding article was originally published on Shel’s blog, Global Neighbourhoods. It is re-published here with permission.

Don’t miss Shel Israel’s keynote presentation with Laura (@Pistachio) Fitton and Charlene Li,
Twitterville: Exploring the Impact of Micro-communications Tools at NewComm Forum, April 27-29 in San Francisco! Register now and use discount code SNCRFRIEND at save $100

Shel Israel is a Senior Fellow and Advisory Board member of the Society for New Communications Research. Mr. Israel writes and speaks about blogging, communications, marketing and innovation. He also consults start ups as a senior strategy and communications advisor. He is co-author of Naked Conversations, and the forthcoming book, Twitterville.