Thursday, August 28, 2008

Ask Britt: Using Twitter to Answer, "What Tools Can I Use to Teach Classes Online?"

This week's question comes from a writing teacher, and client, who wants to know:
"What Tools Can I Use to Teach Classes Online?"
I actually didn't know, so I asked my Twitter network. Twitter is a micro-blogging and social networking tool. You "tweet" 140 character posts which your "followers" can read. You can also be a follower of other people's tweets. It's a super useful tool for tapping the collective wisdom of your network.

Within minutes of posting the question, I received five ideas:

@NancyWhite of Full Circle Associates suggested using a Google Group, a blog, or Moodle, a free, open source course management system. She also said I should check out the work of @leighBlackall at Otago Polytechnic.

2. @wakot of everyday sustainable suggested I contact
Karen Henke of Nimble Press for ideas.

3. @jchou suggested screen sharing with iChat.

4. @santhonys of suggested using the haiku Learning Management System, which on first glance looks pretty easy to use and ranges in price from free-$30/month.

5. @amoration of AMO: The Root of Love also suggested Moodle, and Sloodle which integrates Moodle and the virtual world of Second Life. She also said that she uses wikis.

Pretty cool, huh? Thanks Twitter pals!

**More Twitter suggestions since I published this post

@helenrf of Reach Further teaches writing online with Moodle, but also suggests WordPress blogs and forums.

@PinkHeels of Pink Heels uses Moodle with her university students.


You can email your question (please keep it to 50 words) about the do-good, or artistic work you are doing, or want to do, to Title your email, "Ask Britt: your question topic." I won't post your name, but I will post your question with my answer, so keep that in mind as you write if you don't want details in your question to identify you.


  1. Anonymous6:38 PM

    hey britt! didn't catch your tweet, but wanted to throw my hat into the ring here. my university just started using Sakai, an open source tool which looks promising, though may be a better institutional than individual solution.

    i've also heard a lot of good things about moodle, though i've never used it. wikis are always a good idea, and I've used pbwiki as an easy way to post info for a course. If you're interested in more social features, Ning may be a good choice.

  2. Thanks for posting this! I support faculty/staff who teach online at a university. I've just started making an online resource about Web 2.0 tools. First, it might be of interest to this questioner: (Has info specific to my univ of course, but also links to assignment ideas, etc. Will be growing throughout the semester). Second, may I use your description of Twitter in it? I've struggled with how to describe it and like your few sentences! [Feel free to edit the wiki page yourself if you'd like. )

  3. I was thinking NING as well, because I've seen it used by some of my clients. Is that a paid service?

  4. Thanks for the suggestions, Gina!

    Annmarie, thanks for the link and yes, you can use my Twitter explanation.

    Charitynetusa - You can start a Ning group for free and then add extra features for a fee.

  5. How about political science? Check out: GovTweets for a snippet of national election dialog? --AJ


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