People who know me here already know that I am a huge fan of Twitter for class content (images! video! so much goodness), so I am very happy that Twitter works really nicely in Canvas. You can embed Twitter widgets in Canvas quickly and easily (here's an example: An #InstCon Twitter Widget in Under 5 Minutes ), and the way my Twitter content shows up in Twitter is because I have Twitter in the sidebar of my Announcements blog, and I use that blog as the homepage in both my classes. They're open, so you can click and see: Myth-Folklore and Indian Epics. (I use the same Announcements blog for both classes because, in a sense, it is all just one big class; the only difference is what the students are reading in each class.) In the screenshot below, the Twitter stream is there to the right, with a fabulous music video from Karsh Kale at the top of the Twitter stream. What I want to write about in this post is a fun new thing I am doing with the Announcements: I've added a feature called "From yesterday's Twitter" and I use that as a chance for me to scroll through the previous day's items at the class Twitter account, choosing one to feature in the Announcements. In this screenshot from today's announcements, that item is Madeline L'Engle:
I cannot believe I did not think of doing this sooner! Here are some of the reasons I am very happy about this new feature:
1. It is fun for me! Yes, I am selfish enough to put that reason first. I really enjoy looking back over the past day's Twitter activity to see which item I most want to share again via the announcements.
2. It highlights excellent content. I like to think that all the content I share with the students via the Twitter account is useful in some way, but it's also good to find the really exceptional content to feature. Like in that screenshot: that graphic about Madeline L'Engle and the way she had to persist as a writer is perfect for my class in so many ways. Right now my students notice the Twitter feed in a very random way, and they might not notice it at all (and that's okay; it's totally "extra" in terms of the class content), but this gives them a second chance at some good Twitter stuff. Plus, I can link to the specific tweet so that students who want to explore can also get some ideas about good people to follow at Twitter; this item comes from Debbie Ridpath Ohi, one of my favorite artists at Twitter.
3. It reinforces the idea of Twitter as a valuable content source. I don't really use Twitter for conversations and socializing as much as other teachers do (I'm too verbose, as you can see from this blog, ha ha; I mostly socialize online at Google+ where verbosity is not a problem), but I find so much excellent content at Twitter, both for my classes (some of the Indian authors we read are at Twitter!), and also for my professional development as a teacher. I really want my students to know that Twitter can be used in this way, for educational and professional purposes. When students do share their Twitter accounts with me, my impression is that they mostly use it for socializing, although every once in a while I will see students using Twitter for educational / professional purposes, which make me happy: digital literacy for real!
4. It takes no time. It takes me maybe a few minutes to add this content to my Announcements. Almost all the fun/exploration content in the Announcements blog is recycled in this way. Before, though, I recycled content for the Announcements from my own blogs; some of that content also comes from Twitter of course, but with a time delay since I don't have as much time to blog during the school year. I don't know why I didn't realize how easy it would also be to recycle directly from Twitter! For more about recycled blogs in my Announcements, see this CanvasLIVE: Blog-as-Homepage CanvasLIVE Slides
I made other kinds of experimental adjustments to the Announcements for the new semester, some of which are working pretty well, others I am lukewarm about... but adding "yesterday's Twitter" is something that I really like, and I can already tell I will be doing this every semester!