In high school, I recall doing many book reports, all of which included a creative aspect—make a collage, write a poem, create a diary, ect.—as an attempt to deepen our understanding of both the characters and author. Although nothing really brings you closer to protagonist quite like dressing up like them to present your shoebox diorama of the climax, I think that a movement to integrating technology as a replacement for the arts and crafts portion of book reports is what we need now. Macaroni art lost its luster when power point came out, and I think it is high time we take the next step forward in school work: integration of social media.
I am not personally familiar with twitter, but I have a basic understanding of the principles of the structure: people create a user name, make “tweets” and “follow” their friends or interesting people who say funny things. Each of these tweets can consist of only 140 characters, so it is hard to imagine how informative and in depth a discussion about World War II can be. Forums however, designed to engage conversation without limitations on word count can lend themselves to the long winded, making focus difficult for our blossoming generation of short attention spans. I think that integrating fun into learning is the best way to engage learning, so maybe it is time that teachers recognize the untapped power of using social media in lessons. Students are already very familiar with the way these sites work, and are willing to use them more often than textbooks.
As I mentioned before, with the character limitations, the online portion of the discussion will often lack depth. Despite this, one should never underestimate the power of one-liners. Influential sentences or quotes can have lasting effect and spark a student’s interest in something they did not know that they did not know. To have a chance to commemorate something extraordinary from our history as humans, in our own modern way, could be a real selling point to some students. Making it interesting is what it is all about, and textbooks and fake photo albums just cannot compare to the opportunities available because of modern technology.