March 22, 2015

Twitter for Science Classes

While taking classes in online teaching I had a great idea about how I could use Twitter to make my online class more engaged in science research: have students follow a scientist or research group that is focused on something interesting to them and then report back to us every few weeks on how the research is going and any advances that have been made.

I teach introductory biology with a lab for a community college entirely online.  Introductory biology classes focus largely on what I would call the "history of biology."  By this I mean we are covering all the basics from which current research has grown.  It is largely comprised of information that was discovered years ago.  While we have labs that help engage students in biology and show them the concepts that have been covered, these labs do not allow students to discover anything new, nor do they bring the level of excitement that comes with new discoveries.  Labs are set up so everyone in class discovers the same thing.

I would like to use Twitter to gets students more involved in current research.  They would need to know the background, or history, of the topic to understand it fully.  It would also help them relate how what they are learning in a class comprised primarily of older information relates to what is being discovered today.  For example, why is it important to understand cells to help prevent graying hair?

I look forward to trying this on one of my classes.  If you've used Twitter in your science class I'd like to know what you did and how it worked.