One of my goals this semester was to learn how to use twitter more effectively in my teaching. It’s a broad goal, and it allows for it to materialize in any number of ways. When the semester started, I felt like I hadn’t done anything to really further this goal. I had zero ideas. And I decided I was ok with that. I decided to sit back and let it unfold. I didn’t try to force anything to happen.
When I got my idea, it came to me out of the blue. I realized that I had gotten stuck with trying to get my students to use twitter the way I was using twitter. This means I wanted them to like/tweet/retweet stuff. I wanted them to engage in interactions via twitter.
But the reality is that maybe 25% of my students – at best – had a twitter account to begin with (and how they use it). So I was already set up to fail.
That’s when I hit upon the idea of creating a scavenger hunt via twitter. Here’s how it works….
The Hidden Game
First, I had encouraged students to at least read the twitter feed for the course. We have an official course hashtag – just the course number. I didn’t think they were really reading it though. So I made a this scavenger hunt but only announced it on twitter:
Who’s up for some extra XP and a scavenger hunt? This hidden game starts on the 19th and ends on the 26th.
I had a URL that went to The Hidden Page. The Hidden Page then says this:
Congratulations! You have landed on The Hidden Page. However you got here, good for you. 🙂
The Hidden Page will contain additional things you can do to earn XP. These will not be publicly discussed in class. if you ask me questions about them in front of the class, I will look at you like you are crazy or pretend I didn’t hear you. if you have questions, you can email me [email provided].
Here’s the thing – the Hidden Page is a fun page with fun little extra quests on it. You have to discover it or someone has to be told about it. It’s not a part of the mainstream class experience.
Below this description I then linked to the first game: Twitter Scavenger Hunt – January 19th at 8:00 am – January 26th at 8:00 am.
Having the dates and times in the title was intentional. It shows students clearly when it starts and stops. But if students wander onto a page after the start date – or after the end date! – then they can clearly see they have missed something. They can read the directions, but they will not be able to fully participate. Hopefully this will inspire students to try to locate these hidden games.
Let’s Play the Game!
Here are the directions students found when they followed the link:
1. Each day for seven days (1/19, 1/20, 1/21, 1/22, 1/23, 1/24, 1/25) a tweet will go live at 8:00 am.
2. All tweets will begin with SH#1 (2, 3, etc…). SH#1 tells you this is a Scavenger Hunt tweet, and it is the first one of the seven.
3. You have 24 hours to complete the task given in each tweet. Once the next tweet goes live, you cannot get any points for tasks that came before it.
4. You must tag all tweets with #educ511 and #scavengerhunt. You can use other hashtags if you wish, but you MUST use those two to get credit in ALL your responses.
5. You have to follow the directions exactly if you want XP.
6. Responses for Days 1-6 must be completed in a single tweet. The exception here is Day Seven. If you need to split Day Seven into two tweets that will be fine.
What’s the XP?
- For any single day you complete, you get 250 XP (250 X 7 = 1,750 XP).
- Do all seven and get 1,750 XP PLUS an additional 2000 for doing them all (3,750 total)
Some Nuts & Bolts
I used Twuffer to schedule the tweets. It took me all of 10 minutes to write up the tweets and get them scheduled. This way, everything will go out at the correct date and time. All I had to do once it launched was document who was participating. Even then, since students had to tag it with the course number and scavenger hunt I didn’t have to log participation daily. It would be easy enough to log whenever I wanted (but I would do it sooner rather than later).
One small point – I started and ended the hunt on a Tuesday because that is when class meets. The start date – 1/19 – was the day after Martin Luther King Day. Since that’s a university holiday, I just waited and started the next day.
This is what I asked students to do:
SH #1: Find one #edpolicy resource. Share it. Tag it #educ511, #edpolicy #scavengerhunt
SH #2: Find one person relevant to the course we should follow. Tag: #educ511, #scavengerhunt, tag the person you cite.
SH#3: Retweet a relevant tweet. Tag #educ511, #scavengerhunt
SH#4: link to or reweet a current event (relevant of course!). Tag #educ511, #scavengerhunt
SH#5: Take original picture that reflects something you learned or wish to learn in this course. Attach it. Tags: #educ511 #scavengerhunt
SH#6: pose a question you have about the readings this week. Tags #educ51, #scavengerhunt
SH#7: Identify three # we should use in course. Do this first without looking at what others have shared. Tags: #educ511 #scavengerhunt
Who’s Going to Notice (Or Even Do This)?
After I wrote it all up, I realized that the likelihood was that no one was going to do it. That’s not because no one wanted to do it but because no one would see it (at least not from start to finish). I decided I was ok with that and let it stand as it was.
Well, I wanted to send a message that, hey, class has started, and this class rocks. It rocks in unexpected ways. And if you try to go about it business as usual, well, you’ll probably miss a few interesting things along the way.
At some point someone will find this page and we’ll start to have some fun. But when will that be? Stay tuned.