Weekly Round Up: Twitternactments

Posted in The Gnovis Blog

During last Spring’s gnovis ‘retreat’, Brad Weikel and Ashley Bowen shared their interest in reenacting the Lewis and Clark Expedition on twitter. After some initial skepticism, Brad and Ashley’s idea really began to fascinate me. What would a re-enactment on twitter look like? Could it be used to both teach something about history and rouse excitement in learning history?

This week someone provided a partial answer. St. Martin’s Press and Gingrich Communications announced that a historical re-enactment would take place on Twitter. The announcement reads:

To celebrate the launch of Newt Gingrich (@newtgingrich) and Bill Forstchen’s new book, To Try Men’s Souls, about the Christmas Night 1776 crossing of the Delaware River and attack on the Hessians stationed in Trenton, NJ, St. Martin’s Press and Gingrich Communications are excited to announce the first ever twitter reenactment of the crossing!

After a little investigation, I found that this was not in fact the first “Twitternactment”. Historical tweeting has been attempted by various organizations since the beginning of 2009. As this specific use of the technology is so new, few people have expressed critical or developed opinions on the use of twitter to retell our history.

Instead, I found more unanswered questions and a general curiosity. Below, please check out the examples of twitternactments and historical tweeting that I found.

Examples of twitternactments and historical tweeting:

1 – Gingrich and St. Martin’s twitter the Battle of Trenton,

2 – Massachusetts Historical Society twitters John Quincy Adam’s journal,

3 – Twhistory has tweeted two: Gettysburg and Cuban Missile Crisis ,

4. CryForByzantium is the history of the Byzantium empire,

5. The Berlin Wall Twitter is unique in that it is becoming a archive of collected memories and emotions surrounding the historical turning point.

Also, please review the questions and predictions of some initial reactions to twittering history for pedagogue:

Tom’s Two Cents writes:

Twitter provides all the necessary elements for a recreating a historical event: actors, communication, and relationships. Followers of Twitter reenactments get updates in real-time as the characters of a particular historical event communicate, or “tweet” about what is happening.

Research is needed to understand what effects historical reenactments using Twitter could have on student engagement and learning, but anecdotal evidence point to positive outcomes. Open social learning may be a challenge to harness or control in a formal learning environment, but it is an area that is highly relevant today and should be explored.

SJ Lee’s Bog on eLearning and Tools reviews an article about twitter in higher education:

More than half  [of] respondents have not used [twitter] because some don’t know how to use it and others don’t have time to do it. For those who use it, Twitter is a way of staying on current news and networking with other people. Not many people are using it in classrooms. They will? I don’t know.

Professor Carrie Bishop on A Little Learning: The weblog of the Center for Teaching and Learning at University of Georgia writes:

I’m already convinced that Twitter is a great thing in my personal life. In my work environment and in the classroom, I’m not sure I’ve seen a really great use for it. But the number of students who are already on Twitter and using it daily for conversation and information is growing. I think it does make sense to explore it, test it out, and see how innovative we can be in using this powerful communication tool.

On Academhack the blogger outlines 13 uses for twitter in the classroom and a sample twitter assignment.

Karrie Smith on You are Never Alone questions how instructors assess twitter assignments:

I found a rubric for assessing the use of Twitter (see below) on an American teacher’s blog. Harry Grover Tuttle is keen to use web 2.0 tools in his teaching and raises some interesting questions about how we assess student’s learning in web 2.0 based environments.

So far I’m seeing lots of curiousity and more questions than answers. On gnovis, with the help of Firat and Mark, we have discussed the impact and function of technology more and more in the recent weeks. How does twitter fit into the classroom? Would my undergrads get excited about an assignment on Twitter? More importantly, would they learn anything? I have compiled some of the initial responses from the blogosphere. What does the gnovis community think about twittering history?