Twitter in the Classroom

With school officially back in session, we wanted to dig into the archives and re-post a previous commentary on Twitter in the classroom…the post was an informal interview with Mr. Ryan Durrett, the sports and entertainment marketing teacher at Lake Oswego High School in Oregon, conducted by former SCC intern Griffin Booth (now with the LA Galaxy) and we explored Twitter as an educational tool.  

Be sure to follow SCC @sportsbized and @BizDRett!

SCC:  Thanks for taking some time to share some of your best practices with us Ryan.  If you don’t mind me asking, how long have you been teaching?

RD: I started teaching marketing seven years ago at Lake Oswego High School, eventually  helping to integrate a sports marketing class into the curriculum.  I also teach advertising, advanced marketing, and AP economics.

SCC:  How do you use Twitter as an instructional tool?

RD:  I started using Twitter about two years ago for my sports marketing class because sports and entertainment brands, specific artists, entertainers, athletes…they are all on there.  It is a huge media outlet for all of them and provides them with a great platform for connecting with fans (consumers).  I felt that, if that is where the industry is, that is where we need to be as well.

I primarily engage students by re-tweeting current events/developments within the industry and by looking for relevant stories that might be help illustrate some of the concepts we have explored in the classroom.

Students are always active with social media platforms. If you can have them have in contact with sports and entertainment marketing outside of classroom, that’s just more teaching for them beyond the normal class period.

SCC:  Do your students follow you on Twitter?

I don’t make them follow me because I don’t want to force interest from the students.  I think it’s important that the whole social media component is natural and authentic.  I’ve found that doing contests/fun trivia helps to really keep students engaged and active. I try to keep things pretty simple and avoid posting links to long articles, unless it is something I deem to carry particular relevance to whatever we’re currently discussing in class.

SCC:  What are the advantages and disadvantages to Twitter from a teacher’s perspective?

I think the biggest advantage is creating an outlet for continued communication with students, encouraging them to continue learning outside of class.  The number of students interacting with me on Twitter has grown tremendously. Three years ago, I asked my class of thirty two students to raise their hands if they were active on Twitter and only three raised their hands.  Two  years ago, that number jumped to over twenty. That’s when the foundation of interest and involvement really started.

The biggest disadvantage is definitely the issue of privacy.  I only follow those within the industry, and I don’t use it as a personal forum. Students follow me, but I don’t follow them because I don’t want to risk breaching their privacy. I also don’t use Facebook. It lacks valuable content and is used for more of a social forum.

SCC:  How do you think Twitter will impact the future of education (from a teaching perspective)?

It has already evolved a ton and will continue to do so.  While I’m not a fan of all social media platforms in the world of education, some can provide teachers with some real value, especially when used in engaging ways. With the way our students are right now, the amount of information you can retrieve from a mobile phone, we have to be a little more open minded on how to engage them, and not be afraid to put a spin on traditional education models.

To my knowledge, no other teachers within our school have adopted this style of teaching, which makes our class kind of unique. Obviously, subject matter can make a difference.  Tracking business industry trends via Twitter works for sports, business, marketing, etc., but it isn’t necessarily going to work for math teachers.

SCC:  What advice would you offer other teachers who are hesitant to embrace Twitter as an educational tool?

Perhaps the best advice I can offer is to not to be intimidated.  Once you create your account and get set up, it really isn’t much additional work. Even if you don’t need it (or want) to engage students, there will still be a wealth of information right at your fingertips which can be integrated into your curriculum and lessons.

When it comes to interactions with students, my advice would be to reflect your own personality. You have your own unique style and authenticity and don’t have to fake anything. Whatever your personal style is in classroom should translate to how you engage students with your tweets.

SCC:  Thanks again for sharing your insight with us Ryan.  I’m sure there are a lot of teachers out there looking for ways to get started on Twitter but aren’t sure where to begin so hopefully this helps them take that first step!

Griffin Booth is in his first year as Sports Career Consulting’s Blog Manager.  He is a recent Washington State University graduate where he majored in communications with an emphasis in broadcasting.  Booth began his career as an intern with sports radio 950 KJR in Seattle where he was responsible for managing the show’s podcasts.  He later gained experience as a news anchor, producer, and reporter for Cable 8 news in the greater Pullman area. In addition to his role with Sports Career Consulting, he is currently an intern with Washington State University’s Cougar Athletic Fund, helping to raise money for student-athlete scholarships.  Born and raised in Seattle, Booth is a huge fan of all Seattle sports. For any questions, comments, or feedback please feel free to contact Griffin by email at gbooth206@gmail.com.  You can also follow him on Twitter @gbooth6.