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140 Character Hazing – Education 2.0

By 25 April 2011 14

During a weekend social outing with friends I was swept up in a discussion about teaching in the ‘digital age’ that was punctuated with some choice quotes from a Twitter stream of a UC lecturer.

http://twitter.com/#!/elpcg1

From what I have seen, after the submission of blog entries, all students of the course go through a hazing via Twitter which disassembles their efforts in real time. The marks are calculated and the bell is curved with a running commentary of general frustration and disdain. The grades are then handed back in class a few days later.

Fortunately for me, my years spent dealing with academics were pre-Twitter so I will never know if my lecturer endured the same pain while marking my masterpieces.. but having read the comments from the above feed I am not sure I would have wanted to know what they were really thinking.

The objective of this course is to educate new teachers on the appropriate use of digital technologies (Interweb 2.0) in teaching. So with that course outline in mind, is this use of Twitter something you would like to see filter out through these new teaching recruits into the wider education system?

Would subscribing to a Twitter feed be more convenient and provide better feedback than attending those pesky P&T nights?

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14 Responses to 140 Character Hazing – Education 2.0
#1
astrojax10:53 am, 26 Apr 11

must say, one wonders if the lecturer is going to give the submission his/her 100% attention if s/he’s being bugged by the author – i’m pretty sure i’d wanna assess it in my own space…

#2
vg11:00 am, 26 Apr 11

The UC lecturer is lazy and full of s***

#3
urchin6:56 pm, 26 Apr 11

i didn’t see a “running commentary of general frustration and disdain” at all. perhaps people need to grow thicker skins. dunno why people would say the lecturer is lazy either…

the op seems to be setting up a false binary of either twitter or “conventional” feedback. what is to say the two can’t be used in conjunction with one another.

i don’t get twitter (as a concept) so it’s nothing i’d consider using but telling people to proofread, use grammar and punctuation correctly, to prepare adequately, offering encouragement when students’ work improves and so on seems perfectly reasonable to me.

not getting where the hostility is coming from, though i didn’t read the whole stream so i might have missed something…

#4
Lazy I8:25 pm, 26 Apr 11

I don’t claim at any stage that ‘conventional feedback’ or ‘Twitter feedback’ are somehow mutually exclusive but it’s an interesting interpretation of what i’ve written. I have no trouble following the concept that Twitter is the tool that carries the message, but what also needs to be considered is that it is being used in a public way so is open to interpretation from outsiders (me + rest of the world).

The way I see the tool being used in this context is to essentially share the sub-conscious ramblings of the lecturer as they carry out their work of marking (an unfortunate reality of the job). Is sharing that level of detail really that necessary? does it really add value to the learning process? do 45 followers need to be chastised when someone erroneously calls their ‘blog entry’ their ‘blog’?

I believe some of the comments were far from constructive (as other people I was speaking to did) and you would likely have never seen them in their raw form without Twitter. Like I said in my OP, I never knew what my lecturers were thinking when they were marking .. but would it have really added value if I did?

For me, the (earlier) comments in the feed could have been aptly summarised with “why do I have such a bunch of amateurs submitting content for marking? do they not even understand the basics of the English language!?”, which for me ticks boxes for displaying both frustration and disdain.

What’s wrong with providing a learning environment that enables participants to contribute without the fear of their mistakes being broadcast publicly? Not Web 2.0 enough?

#5
hominoid110:45 pm, 26 Apr 11

I have read through the twitter posts, looked up a few of the links and the lecturers own blog to try to form an opinion about this posting. The lecturer is quite dedicated to ‘information communication technologies’ (ICT) and is clearly passionate about using ICT in learning environments. Ironically having this OP posted here is asking us to critque the lecturer using new ICT methods (twitter etc) by using ICT. Firstly, this wouldn’t fit my learning style and from the earlier post, probably not others on Riot-Act. Everyone has different learning styles and I would not be very receptive to this approach. Publicly critiquing student work may have hazardous results and on the other hand I suppose prospective teachers will end up in a fairly open and harsh working environment, thus requiring a thick skin. I also couldn’t see this working well with every academic discipline. I do object to the fact that everyone outside of the course can read this material and any critiscm of the student work. We all like to think the internet can be place where we can hide our identities and remain anonymous. However by following the twitter link I could find the lecturers own blog pages, CV etc, plus links to the students work and who they are. I do not think this is appropriate to have students openly publishing their work online for coursework. It is not refereed before posting and we have all seen how that can go terribly awry. This also places what should be ‘learning work in progress’ in the public domain for potential employers to access and be unfairly held accountable for every piece of work they do during their studies. I don’t think these issues have been thoroughly assessed for potential privacy issues and future impacts. I would not like to be assessed on my student work from when I was 18 at some later stage in life. I would be surprised if most people think they were at the top of their chosen profession when a first year university student. Yes, the students referred to in the OP are graduates, but it seems that the style of using this method of ICT is promoted by the lecturer for any level. I wonder how 13 year old teenagers would cope with publicly humiliating comments on their work when they already have enough bullying to deal with. I do support, in principle, the use of ICT in teaching and learning, and most univerisities have their own internal ICT system that staff & students use. I’ve been suitably impressed with the use of ICT at univerisities i have been at in recent years and for those of you who were undergraduates before the introduction of ICT in the days of handwriting everything, turgid hours in the library etc, it is great. However, these forms of ICT had privacy controls, student work was not publically denigrated, and communications between students and staff are not freely available to the outside world.

#6
urchin12:10 am, 27 Apr 11

“I don’t claim at any stage that ‘conventional feedback’ or ‘Twitter feedback’ are somehow mutually exclusive but it’s an interesting interpretation of what i’ve written.”

Oh? So when you wrote:

“Would subscribing to a Twitter feed be more convenient and provide better feedback than attending those pesky P&T nights?”

that means “provide better feed back than attending pesky P&T nights AND reading a twitter feed”?

“I have no trouble following the concept that Twitter is the tool that carries the message, but what also needs to be considered is that it is being used in a public way so is open to interpretation from outsiders (me + rest of the world).”

so your beef is that people with too much free time can peep on the tweets and laugh up their sleeves? have any of the students complained about this? surely some sort of subscriber feature is available? but… is there anything to specifically identify a student who is being criticised? i don’t see that. all the criticism seems to be put in general terms… hmm… if you were one of my students i would encourage you to provide concrete evidence to support your argument.

“The way I see the tool being used in this context is to essentially share the sub-conscious ramblings of the lecturer as they carry out their work of marking (an unfortunate reality of the job).”

well that would be a unique and highly biased way of interpreting it. i don’t see marking as an “unfortunate reality of the job”. i see it as a highly effective pedagogical exercise (when done right). students overemphasise marks. they put way too much weight on marks. so teachers should exploit that to make students learn. what i see on the twitter feed is an instructor giving a great deal of immensely practical feedback. if all students want to hear is “oh my, your work is perfect, don’t change a thing” they don’t belong in uni. they are just wasting everyone’s time and money.

“Is sharing that level of detail really that necessary? does it really add value to the learning process? do 45 followers need to be chastised when someone erroneously calls their ‘blog entry’ their ‘blog’?”

erm, isn’t the subject of the class web-based learning technologies? in that case, yeah, i think knowing the difference between a blog and a blog entry is pretty important. you have, i’m sure, scoured all 45 blogs to confirm that it is only one person–and not several–that were making this mistake?

“I believe some of the comments were far from constructive (as other people I was speaking to did) and you would likely have never seen them in their raw form without Twitter.”

you will of course provide examples? and the fact that one might not have seen such feedback without twitter does not, of course, make such feedback irrelevant. indeed, one might argue the exact opposite…

“Like I said in my OP, I never knew what my lecturers were thinking when they were marking .. but would it have really added value if I did?”

only if you wanted to improve your writing and research skills.

“For me, the (earlier) comments in the feed could have been aptly summarised with “why do I have such a bunch of amateurs submitting content for marking? do they not even understand the basics of the English language!?”, which for me ticks boxes for displaying both frustration and disdain.”

shows how much you know. lecturers who truly disdain their students wouldn’t bother. they’d just assign a number that nobody will complain about and then move on to their research. it is by far the easiest thing to do. to go through and provide the level of feedback this person is giving is a huge time commitment and reflects a real concern for students’ learning. it is always the bad feedback that students complain about (and oh my lord but do aussie students love to complain) but it is testament to the instructor’s commitment that they are willing to give crappy marks when they are due. you don’t learn anything from someone telling you that your essay is perfect. you learn when they tear it to shreds.

“What’s wrong with providing a learning environment that enables participants to contribute without the fear of their mistakes being broadcast publicly? Not Web 2.0 enough?”

you will provide examples of where the instructor directly humiliates individuals, i’m sure?

i can’t even figure out how to use quotes properly on riotact and i have yet to discover the location of the shift key, but even so i think your interpretation of the lecturer’s efforts are ungenerous in the extreme. she could have not done twitter at all. would have saved her time and cost her nothing. students, however, would have missed out on a lot.

so yeah, i kind of disagree with you.

#7
Gerry-Built1:54 am, 27 Apr 11

did everyone (especially OP) miss the point that it is an educational technologies subject? ie the lecturer is modeling (supposed) best practice of using Web 2.0 technologies in the education environment… Personally, I’d be a little more careful on the language and tone in a class full of kids – but it seems about accurate for an academic… As school teachers, these days, we are EXPECTED to incorporate Web 2.0 technologies into our teaching and assessment… Giving these uni students the opportunity to use some of these tools as part of the course assessment seems perfectly rational to me… I’d have liked that opportunity when undertaking the equivalent subject 10+ years ago…

It is VITALLY important that these uni students get the language, context, grammar, style and spelling correct, as they’ll need to be able to talk this language in as little as 9 months time, as they teach these as part of their curriculum delivery and assessment themselves… ie consider “blog entry” is to page, what “blog” is to book – yeah, that IS important… (I wonder if anyone else was picturing the hard-arsedProfessor Walsh whilst reading the elpcg1 twitter feed?)

Also – I can never see “Moodle” written without an internal-snigger…

#8
Gerry-Built2:32 am, 27 Apr 11

Oh, and Twitter definitely not for teaching/assessing school-aged children… Similar tools are available in a closed system (ie in the ACT public system we have cLc – Connected Learning Communities)… Though, it is absolutely essential the teacher monitor any blog etc on a regular basis…

#9
Lazy I1:10 pm, 27 Apr 11

“Would subscribing to a Twitter feed be more convenient and provide better feedback than attending those pesky P&T nights?”

that means “provide better feed back than attending pesky P&T nights AND reading a twitter feed”?

Granted, I see what you are saying. In my quoted comment I was referring to the timeliness of the message. The content of the feedback needn’t change, but the timing of the feedback is relevant. ie. would it be ‘better’ to know your child had missed an assignment the week it was missed or at a summary meeting with the teacher somewhere down the line.

well that would be a unique and highly biased way of interpreting it. i don’t see marking as an “unfortunate reality of the job”. i see it as a highly effective pedagogical exercise (when done right).

I haven’t met a teacher yet that doesn’t groan at the mention of marking work, you may be the first. Not sure that makes my experience / opinion highly biased but having never marked work I can only accept what you are saying.

so your beef is that people with too much free time can peep on the tweets and laugh up their sleeves? have any of the students complained about this? surely some sort of subscriber feature is available? but… is there anything to specifically identify a student who is being criticised? i don’t see that. all the criticism seems to be put in general terms…

My beef is that students in this course need to expose their unmarked efforts in this way to be seen as contributing to the course. My primary point is that there are plenty of ways to use the Internet for private discussion, I don’t see why coursework and feedback needs to be so public.

Additionally, I am amazed that someone championing ICT in education isn’t more concerned about the privacy impacts. I think it is also particularly relevant given the Internet Anonymity 101 lesson last week with blondeink.net at Riot-ACT University.

“Have any students complained about this?” hard for me to say.. i’m an outsider. Putting myself in the situation though, I would be concerned that complaining would be interpreted as not being ‘with it’ or ‘evolving with the technology’, a tactic commonly used when selling ICT to middle managers. If the lecturer provided truly anonymous feedback (unsure if they do?) for the courseware / course structure, i’m sure i’d use it (as a student).

As a poster above identified, it isn’t difficult to work through the blogs related to the course and determine the identities of some of the students involved. AOL taught everyone a great lesson on this style of ‘anonymity’ back in 2006.
http://techcrunch.com/2006/08/06/aol-proudly-releases-massive-amounts-of-user-search-data/

shows how much you know. lecturers who truly disdain their students wouldn’t bother. they’d just assign a number that nobody will complain about and then move on to their research

I have worked with a number of academics (admittedly not all lecturers) and if there is one thing I have seen them enjoy more than being called ‘Doctor’, it’s picking someone apart in front of an audience. I just don’t agree that all lecturers would behave as you describe, but that shows how much I know!

you will of course provide examples? and the fact that one might not have seen such feedback without twitter does not, of course, make such feedback irrelevant. indeed, one might argue the exact opposite…
“Proofreading demonstrates love and respect for your lecturer”
“I have soooooooo answered this question in class and on Twitter”

I will admit it doesn’t have the same effect when single comments are provided out of context. Take “Good English rocks!” for example, I see that as a sarcastic follow-up to previous comments about semi-colons and hyphens but I have no doubt you will interpret it as an example of nurturing support. Once again, this type of interpretation is what the lecturer exposes themself to when posting in a public forum.

I am also happy to argue the ‘exact opposite’. I don’t care if my lecturer got out on the wrong side of bed without their morning coffee and I also don’t care if Barry uses hyphens incorrectly. I do care if my work is made an example of publicly though, ‘anonymous’ or not.. but I wouldn’t really have an option to avoid it if I wanted to pass the unit would I?. If the feedback is relevant to me I would expect it to be provided to me directly, I don’t need the world to know.

you will provide examples of where the instructor directly humiliates individuals, i’m sure?
So they need to humiliate someone directly for it to be inappropriate? If you make a sweeping statement about a group of individuals it’s OK because you haven’t singled anyone out? really?

so yeah, i kind of disagree with you
Which is excellent. If I wanted everyone to agree with me I would have written an opinion piece about cyclists.

I think what is lost in this whole discussion is that the Internet is an excellent tool but using the Internet shouldn’t infer that everything you do online needs to be put in a public place.

Hopefully, being harangued by uneducated outsiders is covered in a ‘dealing with problematic parents’ module of the course.

#10
Erg02:12 pm, 27 Apr 11

Ideally, teachers would be going in the other direction and instructing the kiddies on the wisdom of not posting what is essentially private information on a publicly accessible website. I really hope that no potential employer ever gets a look at my stepdaughter’s Facebook page.

#11
Ko.2:40 pm, 27 Apr 11

If any of my lecturers start doing this I will be doing the same live critique of their lecturing abilities.

#12
Keijidosha2:51 pm, 27 Apr 11

I’m coming into this discussion as a late (and begruding) adopter of Twitter.

As far as I am concerned Twitter is a harbour for narcissists and sometimes provider of timely information, which means that the lecturer in question is “doing it rite” if his motives are driven by either of the above factors. That being said I can’t see any reason that the discussions would not be better served through a more private channel (from memory UC provides an online bulletin board and messaging service for lecturer/student communication).

Fact is that Twitter is just so damn convenient for the majority that it has become hugely popular, and that means it will be used often, regardless of whether it is a suitable medium for the message. I think the real question is whether or not UC has a policy regarding the use of social networks to discuss information that during my time would have been considered private?

#13
urchin6:56 pm, 27 Apr 11

not to beat this dead horse but taking offense at comments like “Proofreading demonstrates love and respect for your lecturer” and “I have soooooooo answered this question in class and on Twitter” would seem to indicate overly thin skin.

#14
Lazy I10:26 pm, 27 Apr 11

not to beat this dead horse but taking offense at comments like “Proofreading demonstrates love and respect for your lecturer” and “I have soooooooo answered this question in class and on Twitter” would seem to indicate overly thin skin.

No dead horse here. I said they were far from constructive, I didn’t suggest they were offensive.

Those examples may be a little lame and I realise why now.. the tone and posting rate of the stream has picked up considerably since being publicised, unfortunately knocking off some of the previous comments. Luckily for me (us) though I have a cache from the RSS feed that I was looking at on the weekend, they might provide a more accurate insight into why I wrote the OP.

Some general:
elpcg1: It can be easy to accidentally use others’ ideas without acknowledgement. You are REQUIRED to cite others’ work, incl. classmates

elpcg1: I want >blog entries< from you, not mini-essays. See tips at http://bit.ly/fzdOKV. Stick to one point per post. Focus is important #elpcg1

elpcg1: I’m seeing a LOT of problems in your entries with English language expression & with the development of thought. We need to talk. #elpcg1

elpcg1: Show your readers the courtesy of proofreading your blog entries. Typos and poor spelling, grammar and punctuation are a bad look #elpcg1

elpcg1: You will get better marks if you interpret and analyse the material you are dealing with — don’t just present it acritically #elpcg1

Some directed at specific students publicly:
elpcg1: @ianmergard @TaraGoodsell @hgermantse Please distinguish hyphen use for compound adjs & nouns. You are over-using for compound nouns #elpcg1

My favourites:
elpcg1: Wrong punctuation: “The cat sat on the mat. Smith (2011: 123)” It’s a pattern in yr work. Why? You rely on grammar checker too much? #elpcg1

elpcg1: Please know the difference between a dash and a hyphen #elpcg1

elpcg1: Did you PLAN your individual blog entries? Or did you just start a-writin’? PLANNING is essential to clear, structured writing. #elpcg1

elpcg1: Do I need to run a writing workshop? #elpcg1

.. and in answer to one of your previous questions, it appears a student did complain directly to the feed, this was the response (all public):
elpcg1: @Joseph_Stephens I take your point but most of my tweets are simply grammar tips & I need to keep track of common probs as I go #elpcg1

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