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Twitter Experiment No.1 Results

On Thursday, January 29th, I introduced Twitter to my current TEFL students.
I am asking my students to tweet, follow and be followed by each other for the program. I will watch the tweets and see what, if any, English comes of it.
I also asked their other teachers to get an account and participate as well.

Goals & Questions
My general goal was to encourage natural wild English production: Did this type of English production increase?

Other questions regarding my implementation of Twitter:
Was there an improvement of rapport?
Was there empathy-building between students, their peers and teachers?
Was there an improvement of the dissemination of program-wide updates and announcements?
Did they have fun with it?
Will they still use it AFTER my course is done?

Not a Full-Blown Research Study, Just my observations...
I did not use any statistical tools in attempting to answer these questions above. So, after reading and musing and compiling a simple spreadsheet here's my take.

It did spur wild English conversation.

I read student initiated comments on travel, food, mood and more. After the initial comment, others following would 'tweet' responses-either as a general comment, but more often they would use the simple (and clever) @ remark to direct their conversation publically towards a particular recipient. These public exchanges were easy to follow and participate in. And students did do this.

Discourse Analysis
What would be interesting is tracking and analyzing the discourse of these micro-threaded interactions. The discipline of Discourse Analysis in Linguistics would have a treasure trove of data to sift through. Thesis topics anyone?

Some Things Were Hard to Track
I couldn't track how the students' use and effectiveness of the 'Direct Message' function because I can only see my Direct Message exchanges but not all the others. In my use of it I had 'email-like' conversations with the students. Like typical email they needed privacy and were useful in that capacity. I also used DM to periodically correct grammar that the students made. These short corrections took only a few seconds and the students were very appreciative of these corrections.

The Verdict.
I want my students to keep using Twitter. I saw how they used it these past 48 days. I am hopeful that the wild language production continues on. For me, I will use twitter (personally and professionally) for the time being as I see its potential utility. It seems to fill a gap between email, SMS, and blogging.
In terms of other similar social networking applications out there, I am keeping an eye on Blellow, a Twitter-like collaboration tool, but not now. I need to check my twitter-feed. You can find me: lorewarden on the Twitter.

For those who need the lingo: Mashable has a great post on twitter lingo.