Twitter and Storify in a 200-level Russian Literature class

Dr. Colleen McQuillen

Dr. Colleen McQuillen is Associate Professor of Slavic and Baltic Languages and Literatures &
Associate Director of the School of LCSL.

The Goal: The primary learning objective for this project was to understand how creativity, and in particular that driving works of literary fiction, is inspired by sounds, pictures, videos, and other people’s ideas.

The Tools: Twitter (a social media platform) and Storify (a social storytelling tool)

The Assignment: My students used Twitter to author collaboratively an original work of fiction and I aggregated their tweets on Storify.
     An overarching theme of the course was the role of imagination in our everyday lives and I therefore wanted to design an assignment that would engage the students’ imaginations. Because many of the students were taking the course to fulfill their Creative Arts gen ed requirement and were majors in engineering and natural sciences, I wanted them to appreciate that the creativity involved in writing fiction is related to the practices of creative vision that engineers and scientists employ.
          Students earned additional points for their tweets by alluding to a story or novel that we read or film that we watched for class and had points docked if they contributed a post that was blatantly out of keeping with the mood or plot as established by other students. They could also earn additional points by posting pictures and videos to the Storify site that complemented other people’s tweets.

The Outcome: From the instructor’s point of view, this was a very complicated assignment to manage (see the assignment and grading sheets). The most problematic point came at the end when students ended up tweeting simultaneously, which meant that the sequence of tweets was interrupted and as a consequence, some of the tweets were non sequiturs or contradicted each other. However, most students had never used Twitter before and many commented that they were grateful for the experience and had a lot of fun, too.

student tweets

A Student’s Tweets
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twitter - media

#russ247 Tweets Using Media
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The Class Storify Page
(click to enlarge)

To visit the Storify page, click here.

Note:  Twitter and Storify are public sites. If you prefer not to have student work be public, the LCLC can show you some options.