Hopefully you’ve read my post on what HootCourse is, if not click here. My colleague and I Omar have discussed HootCourse and are torn on the matter. Omar doesn’t feel that HootCourse has any functional place in the classroom. You can read his well written and supported points here. This post is not to argue his points, I can see where he’s coming from. I am just going to layout how I think it can HELP teachers in the classrooms. Read on past the break to get all the Hootness you can handle.
First, the name HootCourse is a little misleading. It would be difficult for HootCourse to actually host an entire class, but I don’t think that was the intention of the developers. I believe they were planning to leverage the power of Twitter and funnel it into a more educational container. In my opinion they have done just that. Here are some points where I think HootCourse is winning.
HootCourse is extremely flexible in how an educator can use it. Maybe, there is an educational program on TV that he wants the class to view and discuss as its going on. A chat room could work, but this is far easy. Twitter has many apps that work on many smartphones, tablets, not to mention laptops and computers. With it’s 140 character limit, it forces people to distill their thoughts and ideas. It’s nice how HootCourse let’s you view questions, links, and other “Hoots” on seperate tabs. Allowing you to peruse other information quickly and effectively. That is just a one time factor.
This could also be used as a place for a teacher to place supplemental material, remind students of essential questions, and give students an outlet to reach out to not just the class, but others on Twitter for help. More on this later.
Ease of Use
HootCourse, like Twitter, is super easy to use. Unlike a blog, Moodle, even Edmodo (which I find quite easy as well), getting up and running with HootCourse is beyond fast and easy. From signing in (no sign up required if you have Facebook or Twitter account) to creating my first class took about five minutes. Then to share that URL with other people was merely a group email away.
Using HootCourse is also easy. I mean, it’s Twitter for hooting-out-loud. Sorry for that lousy joke. You type in what you want to say and click Send. End of story. You can add links to whatever you want, documents, websites, pictures, videos, it is up to you.
HootCourse is not designed to run your entire course like Moodle, Edmodo, WebCT, or Blackboard. It is to be used as an additional ways of communicating with your course, running a webinar, creating a place to discuss with others. It can also link up to many blogging platforms to post larger posts. It is a good addition to just about any class.
The Power of Twitter
The greatest asset I can think of with HootCourse is that it is built off of Twitter. When you are in HootCourse, you only see what you and the people in the course Tweet, Hoot, post, or whatever you want to call it. However, when you go onto your Twitter account, you will your tweets and everyone following you can too. If those people retweet (or repost) what you retweet, it automatically plugs you into a larger network. One far larger and more powerful than just your class. It lets you reach out and connect with other like minded people who can give you new views on topics that you can bring back into the class.
This reason is what makes HootCourse appealing to me, but let me be clear, I don’t think it is for everyone. Elementary students . . . would probably be a bad idea. Probably most middle school students as well. For high school students and beyond, I think HootCourse is a good way to use. If you’re unsure, try it out for a quick after school chat room.
For these reasons I give HootCourse a big thumbs up. I don’t know if it will make your class better, but it gives you a chance to reach beyond your classroom to communicate with students. More communication can’t be too bad a thing I says.