Product Review of Twiducate
Developed in 2009, Twiducate is a free social networking tool for classrooms. Teachers add learners by first name or an alias after registering; learners get random numeric passwords. Users can personalize their account with one of the site’s avatar images or their own. Students and educators can e-mail each other through the site, and educators can share bookmarks, posts, deadlines, and other information that only their classroom can see. Teachers can also search by name for other educators in the system with whom they can communicate and share ideas.
Teachers can use Twiducate to send learners assignments, to refer them to educational websites by sharing URL links, and to post dates as reminders about upcoming deadlines and events.
The simple system lets educators broadcast a message to their entire classroom or send a note to individual learners; they can dole out extra-credit assignments, send support materials to learners who are struggling, or provide pre-test prep materials to an entire class.
Twiducate provides a safe way for educators to share content with learners, who get to practice social networking and written communication skills in the process. Information is exchanged via a secure, closed network. Teachers can view student site activity and prevent them from editing and deleting their posts.
Students may not be impressed by the site’s simple design — Facebook’s photo-driven feed provides more compelling visuals — and the site has a few limitations. Teachers can’t easily include attachments in e-mails or posts; they need to upload the items elsewhere and include a link to the materials, which can be cumbersome. Some features can be a little confusing. Teacher profiles include an option to disable chatting, but there’s no clear IM feature on the site. The prominent link to Twiducate’s Café Press page, touting products with a site logo, seems unnecessary, and Twiducate’s Explore page contains links to sites with varying educational value, like Wikipedia. Though Twiducate doesn’t provide education, the site can serve as a simple example of safe social media use, offering educators a way to share classroom content and giving kids experience communicating online.
Overall User Consensus About the App
The design isn’t overly dynamic; don’t expect a ton of activities, or bells and whistles. The system is a safe, simple way for learners and educators to correspond. Kids can also customize their avatar and include a brief profile bio.
Curriculum and Instruction
Kids practice using social media in a safe environment with other classmates. They also get writing and self-expression experience. But educators need to provide communication tips, educational information, activities, and guidance.
Teachers can view student site activity but don’t get many extra resources. A blog offers usage tips and e-learning information; another page has links to educational sites like PBS Kids, as well as some more general sources like Wikipedia.