As I mentioned in class, I have explored Reddit in the past and found it useful for my personal education, particularly when looking for tackling problems for which there are multiple solutions that require knowledge of a variable range of skills in order to address (i.e., technical projects, odd fix-it jobs, etc.). I’ve also found Reddit to be occasionally useful for political and social science learning (i.e., reading recommendations, straightforward explanations of complex concepts), but generally inferior to book learning (even when there’s an expert who nails it, it often lacks the bibliographic details a serious political or social scientific researcher requires). Given that teaching falls into the “problems with multiple solutions” categories, Reddit can be really useful for explore classroom management techniques, reflections of first year teachers, or critical pedagogy. For teacher professional learning, Reddit seems to offer more benefits than constraints, as it doesn’t require the level of “curation” that an edited collection of classroom experiences might. However, this lack of an editorial filter means that the “archetypal” experiences may not be included (however, the outliers that often go unexplored might be).
In terms of my classroom, I can envision a few potential uses. For example, students could explore source verification and credibility by exploring subreddits (i.e., “Find at least three sources through the subreddit in your chosen field of research, verify the source, and determine its academic credibility”). This could be particularly interesting for explore pseudoscience and conspiracy theories (i.e., flat earth, eugenics, Paul McCartney really died in 1966 but was replaced by fakes, etc.) with the aim of disproving them. However, my impulse as a teacher is to say that such avenues would be better explored in a more controlled fashion (i.e., printed handouts or a class website). Regardless, Reddit is blocked via a Firewall in my school, we frequently lack computers for our students, and the internet can be extremely slow.
In contrast to the “many-to-many” distributed network format of Reddit, Twitter seems to have more relevant applications for a middle school classroom. For example, a class Twitter could post practical reminders related to coursework, follow-up with in-class discussions and debates, and provide a short-form venue for students and teachers to continue engaging with the course content beyond the classroom. This seems particularly useful given how little time we have in and out of the class (it’s much easier to respond to a tweet, or retweet with a comment, than to read and adequately respond to Reddit’s long-form posts). I could definitely see myself creating a Twitter (or Instagram) for my class, though I think Reddit would require further exploration and more holistic analysis of the costs and benefits.