I tried an experiment this year with the Documentary classes I teach. Each session I ask a different student to pick a documentary for us all to watch at home during the coming week. What we’ve started doing this year is using Twitter to comment on the documentary as we watch, tagging posts with the hashtag, #docs, so that we can see what the others have said, even if we don’t watch it go out live.
I’ve found it really interesting to see what students think of a programme as we’re watching it. Picking up on other people’s opinions makes me consider aspects of a show that I might not otherwise have thought about, so it’s a worthwhile intellectual activity, and I’ve enjoyed the communal aspect of watching something together and comparing reactions.
On several occasions other people, not involved in the Documentary class have joined in the Twitter discussions, which all adds to the conversation!
Using Twitter to comment on the documentaries chosen has been strictly optional. Twitter isn’t for everyone! What’s been rewarding is that for some students, who had found Twitter difficult to get started with initially, this has been an easy way to get more into it. The experiment gave them the confidence to ask in class about aspects such as how to set up a Twitter account, or how to use hashtags. More importantly though the exercise gave students who weren’t necessarily devotees of Twitter something meaningful and interesting to say.
This approach is an easy one for anyone to do for themselves. If you want to use Twitter to enhance your employability, then letting people know what you had for dinner isn’t going to get you many industry professionals as followers. You need to have something interesting to say. Commenting on television or radio shows as you watch or listen, is actually a pretty good way of saying something meaningful, and of engaging with other Twitter users. As a Media student you are used to analysing media texts, so use this to your advantage by critiquing programmes intelligently. If you use a relevant hashtag, often they are captioned at the beginning of a show, then you’ll be able to connect with other like minded Twitter users, finding more people to follow and potentially more followers – good ways to enlarge your network, as well as taking part in live social commentary.