Reflecting Allowed

Maha Bali’s blog about education

Reporting on Twitter Scavenger Hunt

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Reading Time: 4 minutes

If you’re new here and don’t know the backstory, I had a Twitter Scavenger Hunt with my students on Nov 4 to introduce them to twitter. It was my first official class with these students because I am inly teaching 1/3 of a course (module on edu game design). Developing the activity started as an idea early in the semester (there is a blogpost earlier, too lazy to get the link now), got lots of feedback from online friends, kept tweaking the activity, and then shortly before the day, invited people from my PLN to participate in the activity from all over the world and got an OVERWHELMING response! And just before the day, I got some feedback on the handout and activity from f2f colleagues at CLT. On the day, I had help from two colleagues who knew twitter well enough to be able to answer technical questions if students had them (I had 20 students, about 1/3 of whom used twitter regularly, a few who had accounts but didn’t use them, and a few total newbies).

How the day went
The day started with students giving me blank stares, and ended with a really noisy class and twitter stream (I love chaos) and students trying to guess about each other’s photos, shouting out that someone had responded to them from the twitterverse, and asking each other who nifkin was and what tvsz was.

I am glad I got snacks as one of the early “rewards” in the game. Some people were hungry/thirsty and having a variety of snacks did seem to encourage people to finish the first few “missions” (thx to JR Dingwall for inspiring this term thru ur writing about tvsz) quickly to get a choice of which snack.

But what is amazing is that students became so intrinsically motivated to do the rest of the stuff is that they stopped asking for the rewards related to other parts of the game!!! And I decided not to give it to them!!!

The earliest reward for following the games_eg account or my personal one was a DM from me with the text of the google doc for the handout. This hand more info than the handout I printed out – it had a list of all the hashtags and twitter handles of people we were interacting with. This turned out to be MAJORLY useful because my original plan had been to assign certain people certain contacts/hashtags, and then a colleague suggested I do so via twitter, but it got really difficult to organize (plus most students didn’t work in pairs so it would have been crazy). Instead, I let them get overwhelmed and let them find people.

Organically, students started asking ‘how would i guarantee a quick response” and they started asking aloud and asking each other. They came up with “if someone lives nearby they’re probably at least awake” (though I told them some ppl were awake in Alaska – thank you Lori!) and with my help, they also realized they could search the hashtag to see who was already tweeting at the time (thank you @digisim)

This meant they got kind of strategic in asking people who would give them instant gratification, and did not engage as much with Janine’s #nifkin class in terms of responding to her students@ photos (they are 80 and mine are 20 but i was hoping other ppl participating would have helped with that).

Partway through the buzz in the class, some students asked, wide-eyed, “is this an international event we are participating in?” And I said, “well, I designed this game for YOU, and all these people from all over the world are participating because they are interested in meeting YOU”. They were fascinated.

Reading their blogposts later, I feel great. Many were confused at the beginning and came in with the attitude of boredom… But it seems eventually they got excited and interested. I am particularly happy about two things:

A. For many of them, the key thing was the power of meeting others online and learning from them. That “attitude” was what I was hoping for
B. I did next to zero instruction on “how to” do things on twitter; they needed to do the missions, so they tried to figure things out and asked when stuck. But I did not whole-group instruction on how-to. It would have bored the tech savvy and been too fast for the total newbies.

I kept tweetdeck open on the large screen so I could view tweets and respond to students. I walked around with my iPad. My two colleagues helping me out were running around helping students and students were helping each other.

I also used Martin Hawksey’s TAGS Explorer. It was awesome but there was a bit of a delay in how the explorer displayed what was in the sheet. Will post an updated one as soon as i get the chance.

What did not go well
I feel bad that my students did not get to respond enough to Janine’s students. There were also other ppl who posted photos so it was a bit chaotic.

People kept forgetting to use the hashtag and also confusing the hashtag #gameseg with the twitter account @games_eg and ended up with #games_eg which is totally understandable and my fault. Shoulda made em both the same. But i had started using the hashtag long before i decided to create the twitter account.

I might have paid more attention to the students who looked the most confused. For some reason, only two students paired up (one pair) whereas most decided to go it alone. That in itself was not expected for me. I guess getting 10 laptops meant ppl who did not have smartphones or iPads could engage fully, so they all wanted to learn for themselves. So yeah πŸ™‚

How I would do it differently next time

Definitely pick a time when more ppl from my network were awake

Definitely include more interactive components – easier to do w more people awake!

Conclusion
Experiential learning rocks! Their reflections have been awesome!

I hope I have achieved the medium-term goal of exciting them about #tvsz (more international collaboration) and the longer-term goal of engaging them with the learning potential of social media!

Thank you to everyone who participated in this activity!

Here is a screenshot of the TAGS Explorer (which you can play with here)

TAGS Explorer, <a href=

full, interactive version accessible here ” width=”300″ height=”140″ class=”size-medium wp-image-1392″ /> TAGS Explorer, full version accessible here

P.S. finally did the storify here

12 Comments

  1. Sounds like crazy, wonderfully energy charged session πŸ™‚ Congratulations to you and your students Maha.

    I noticed that when it comes to technology many prefer to do it alone once they’ve figured it out unless teaming up is absolutely an integral part of the activity ( or is it only technology? hmm may be not).

    I think it was a great decision to use ambiguity or lack of instructions as a tool πŸ™‚ I found that ,combined with the right environment and learning conditions, it produces more learning coupled with high levels of interaction and energy (consructivist and constructionist?). hmmm any way when training managers I even use it to create frustration sometimes πŸ™‚ . No, I am not being evil, I usually use it to lead to aha moments, new ways of thinking , opening new doors, but I have to confess that with some managers I thoroughly enjoyed it.

    BTW, now I understand why I didn’t see much happening on the #gameseg tag lol.

    • Thanks ya Maha for posting πŸ™‚ and for participating in the day as well.

      I agree with your use of the term “frustration” – as long as there is enough support and motivation to reach the end goal, frustration can be a great place to start!

  2. Oh Maha – so impressed with this!! Brilliant – you do continue to take my breath away! πŸ˜€ Sandra

  3. @Bali_Maha Our minds are interlocked! Was going to ask you the same thing! Yes, please, is the answer. We’ve never done anything like it.

  4. @DavidMathewJPD cool, glad you’re interested. Now just have to find the time to write it up properly πŸ™‚

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