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Learning with Twitter is something modern teachers are seeing more and more possibilities for. Initially, the question years ago was about whether or not Twitter would perform consistently as a classroom tool. Would it allow social media to take on a life of its own, other than just using it as a one-time project? Could Twitter become a mainstay of the learner’s experience as a way to engage in the world around them?
Fast forward to today, and the answers are a resounding yes, yes, yes. Since its introduction in 2006, educators have discovered and formulated tons of great ideas for learning with Twitter. We’ll list a few below, and then we’ll highlight a few educators who have blogged about their experiences. It’s our hope that you’ll get in on the conversation and share your own experiences with us.
Ideas for Learning With Twitter
What makes Twitter a tool that teachers would want to use? How have students achieved real learning with Twitter? Here is a list of those ideas using Twitter with students:
- Tweet about upcoming due dates or assignments
- Provide the class with a running news feed
- Use Twitter in the classroom to create a career list
- Connect with the community
- Write a story or poem
- Ask questions
- Role play
- Go on a scavenger hunt
- Create a character
- Create a progressive poem
Here is a list of great tips on managing Twitter usage with your students:
- Don’t require that students follow your account
- Commit to posting at regular intervals
- Vary the time of day of the posts.
- Post links to content that is user-friendly
- Know your audience’s interests
- Don’t just retweet; generate original links
- Suggest people, organizations or magazines to follow
- Be personal, but avoid the overly personal comments
Beyond this, you can benefit from one of our most popular social media resources for teachers. Maximize your experiences of learning with Twitter using the Twitter-Tastic Teacher's Guide.
Teachers on Learning With Twitter
There's no better place to look than at examples of success with Twitter's practical applications in the modern classroom. When searching for first-hand accounts of using Twitter with students, we first found Natascha Chtena.
While Twitter is a great tool in her mind, she delivered some useful pointers and honest cautions that she encountered in a higher-level ed class (still relevant or more so when concerning lower ed students). Here is her list of 7 things she learned when using Twitter with her college students:
- “How to use Twitter in the Classroom” guides are largely missing the point.
- Not everyone’s a “digital native.”
- Sometimes you just have to use incentives.
- Participation is one thing, engagement is another.
- Consistency will influence student output.
- If you’re aiming at student interaction, offering concrete tasks is key.
- Think about what Twitter really brings to the table.
Here’s a real life example of Twitter in the classroom. In this example the students were assigned to compose their thoughts first on paper using 140 characters or less, sharing “smile moments” from within and outside of the classroom. They then Tweeted to a hashtag created uniquely for their classroom. Using Storify, they brought all their tweets together into one story.
"There really are no limits to this as long as we're being safe about it," says Principal Hutchinson. “Tweets also should remain purposeful.”
Next, we found Laura Wheeler chiming in about why she uses Twitter. “It took a couple of years before I really understood how to use Twitter to get what I wanted out of it,” she confessed. Wheeler uses the social networking site mostly outside the classroom, not involving her students. Her reasons are:
- To get ideas for lessons and activities
- To expand her Professional Learning Network (PLN)
- To wax philosophical on the bigger ideas in education
- To engage in conversations with like-minded professionals
- To be linked into opportunities for professional development
Finally, here are some Twitter gurus to connect with, their websites and their Twitter ID’s:
- Cybrary Man (Jerry Blumengarten): a list of all things Twitter education-related, from hashtags, chats, and other contacts.
- Eric Johnson
- Lisa Nielsen
- Steven Anderson
- Alice Keeler