Thursday, June 25, 2009

IEEP; Twitter and Teaching Enterprise

Yesterday (yeah okay I know I haven't blogged for ages, anyway...) I was presenting to this year's IEEP (International Enterprise Educators Programme) cohort with colleagues from two other universities; Dr Kelly SMith (Huddersfiled, @kellyjs) and Tom Williamson (Coventry @floppyarms). Not really sure how we were billed but I went along to talk about how I have used Twitter in my teaching.

Above is a screen shot of a slide. The table highlights how I think twitter is useful for the different courses I teach on.

I was trying to talk about why I use Twitter? Mainly it's because I teach interactive or digital marketing. So obviously Twitter, along with many other things, is covered. I use it for a number of practical things too. Students can interact with my networks (an area that with colleagues I have discussed elsewhere), develop their own, get an insight into appropriate ways of using Twitter on behalf of their future clients and for developing their own businesses and personal online presence. Twitter is not explored in isolation it is one of many tools (just currently particularly useful). As well as this students are encouraged to use it to annotate the session under a common #hashtag, making for group note taking and an ensuing conversation which, potentially, extends beyond the class room.

At the IEEP event a number of concerns were voiced. One of the issues that arose was anxiety about referring students to documents which held no academic rigour. Along with this was anxiety about the level of academic evaluation as to the value of services like twitter.

My initial response to these two points. Firstly the speed with which technology changes and the ways in which folks use the Internet and apply the various tools available is constantly evolving. In contrast an academic paper can literally take years to go through the review process and be published. This making research relating to use of twitter (at least peer reviewed academic research) rather thin on the ground. Twitter only started in 2006 after all.

A second aspect is a tension which I perceive within enterprise/entrepreneurship education and which has been borne out in various evaluations of enterprise provision I've been involved in. This being the balance between academic/theoretical pursuit and the need to provide students with insight into new and emerging business models as well as timely and appropriate marketing approaches (and that's scratching the surface). I am talking about theory vs practice.

The ensuing talk offered much healthy scepticism and tough questioning.

However anyone would think that we were pushy sales folk trying to flog our wares, rather than a couple of academics discussing how we are embracing new technologies, trying to conceptualise their implications and seeking opportunities from them for ourselves and our students.

Hmm as a final note I must thank the IEEPers as one way or another the debate has ended a long drought period within this blog (been tweeting too much....:-) Thank you and perhaps see you on twitter @charlottecarey