Following-up on my blog post from August 19, 2012 (“‘Microblogging’ Science in 140 Characters or Less: A Twitter Primer”) I gave two microteaching lessons on science communication to my Delta Program summer course The College Classroom. Below is a reflection on that experience. Thanks to my fellow learners and colleagues for being an engaging audience and for the very insightful feedback.
In planning for the microteaching activity, my goal was to develop a lesson, on the theme of “Using Social Media to Communicate Science,” that would be salient to an audience of graduate students in the bench sciences. To make my lesson learner-centered, I engaged in backward design to first develop the learning outcomes:
1. Students will come away from the lesson with an appreciation for the “science” of communication and the value of communicating science with broader publics via social media, specifically Twitter.
2. Students will understand the principles of “tweeting” and be able to write about science for Twitter.
I wanted to focus on using Twitter and its utility for communicating science. However, I recognized the need introduce the underlying communication theory. In the interest of time, I decided to focus on deliberation, framing and trends in news consumption via social media platforms (see here for a blog post based on my lesson). I outlined the lesson to first give a short introduction to science communication, social media usage trends and Twitter best practices, then engage in a Think, Pair, Share (TPS) activity to have students chose a life sciences news story and write sample tweets based on the content. I had planed to have students discuss the exercise with a partner, based on the following questions, but we ran out of time:
1. How did you choose what content from the article to highlight? Did you focus on the facts and/or add your own opinion in the tweet? Why or why not?
2. How would you hashtag (index) this material?
3. Where did this activity fall on the continuum of easy to challenging? Why?
4. How might you apply (or not) social media to communicate your own research?
One of the strengths of my first round of microteaching was that I started out my presentation by asking the class how many of them had heard of Twitter (a handful) and how many used Twitter (no one). One thing I could have done better from that point would have been to narrow focus to either the key communication theory concepts or the mechanics of how to use Twitter (e.g. set-up an account, what are hashtags, etc.) Continue reading