Teacher’s Guide to Using Twitter in the Classroom

This guide brings together some of the best tips on using Twitter in the classroom. We’ve sourced some of the best education blogs from the web to bring you these useful resources from influential bloggers. Our tips come from Jeff Dunn from Edudemic and Christopher Pappas from eLearning Industry plus other education bloggers who really know what they are talking about.

If you’re new to using social media in the classroom, this video from CNN:

Thanks to Jaime Vandergrift for sharing @JaimeVanderG


Twitter in the Classroom

Jeff Dunn from Edudemic has written a myriad of different articles discussing how to proactively use Twitter in the classroom. Below we share some of Jeff’s top articles where he gives his best tips on how to use Twitter in the classroom.

In his article 7 Ways to Get More Out of Twitter he says:

Follow at least 10 new people every week. When you do, unfollow people who aren’t adding to your online learning and growth. This culling will help you build a truly powerful Twitter stream and Personal Learning Network.

While in My 5 Best Social Media Tips for Teachers he writes:

Get your colleagues on board and see if you can accomplish new projects using social media. Now that you’re back in school, see what colleagues did in terms of social media.

And in 100 Ways to Use Twitter in Education  two of his best tips are to:

Let students make the first move. Don’t force students to follow you on Twitter unless it’s part of the course. Let them decide to follow or not.

Lighten up. You don’t have to be super serious on Twitter to earn students’ respect. In fact, loosening up could just help improve your rapport with your students.

Using #Hashtag Directories

Another education blogger who has provided advice on this topic is Anibal Pacheco, from influential education blog TeachThought, who wrote for 7 Ideas for Using Hashtags in the Classroom.

Anibal recommends that you search hashtag directory services like tagdef.comtwubs.com and hashtags.org to see if somebody is using the one you want. This is crucial because you do not want to start using a hashtag or host a Twitter Chat only to find out somebody halfway across the world has already been using it for months. Twitter does not have formal rules about hashtag ownership, but as a matter of netiquette it is prudent to check first. You could be reported for spam, or be blocked due to someone else using the hashtag.

Leveraging Guest Speakers

Jess Fee writing on Using Social Media in the Classroom for Mashable has this great tip:

Use a #hashtag to facilitate guest speaker discussions.

Jess notes that according to a recent YPulse survey, 21% of Millennials use Twitter as their primary source for finding news. Encouraging students to engage with guest speakers via Twitter makes them more engaged with the platform and prepares them to raise important questions online.

The article on Mashable explains how, during an investigative journalism class at New York University, one professor invited prominent journalists to come speak to the class of more than 200 people and encouraged students to live-tweet the interview using the hashtag #IJNYU. Because the class was so big and the tweets so frequent, the hashtag occasionally became a trending topic in New York City. Students were then required to turn in a Storify summary based on their classmates’ tweets within 24 hours.

Another way to incorporate hashtags during classroom discussions as noted by Jess in her article is to encourage students to tweet questions to a guest speaker as the speaker is talking. This is exactly what Mara Einstein and Chad Boettcher did for NYU’s Innovations in Marketing class. This method ensures that students don’t interrupt the speaker while he or she is talking. More importantly, however, is that it also engages the students’ social communities outside of the classroom, so people who aren’t taking the class can also chime-in with questions for the guest speaker.

Who to Follow on Twitter?

Denise Scavitto discusses how Teachers Should Stop Being Scared of Twitter for Edudemic. She makes the following point on the criteria for choosing who to follow:

The people I had connected to in my PLN (personal learning network) share amazing materials about all aspects of education. Articles about the importance of rhetoric, critical thinking, and emotional intelligence or another article giving teachers a crash course on cellphone use in the classroom. Articles like this would have been buried in the vastness of the web for eternity – but I read them because they appeared in my feed.

Use Twitter to Empower Creative Writing

Christopher Pappas has an abundance of great tips in his Teachers Guide to Twitter. This tip in particular relates to using Twitter to help develop creative writing skills in students:

Have students work in teams to brainstorm story ideas on Twitter.

Christopher notes that students often wonder what to write about and when assigned with a creative writing task. He encourages educators and learners to use Twitter to brainstorm and define plot and character with the following steps:

Step 1
An easy way to encourage communication online is to have a group tweet their ideas using a dedicated classroom #hashtag. “This technological conversation will guide the students through the brainstorming process.” Christopher suggests that teachers set a deadline for a minimum number of participatory tweets and  by the end of a tweeting session, students will have a good idea about what to write.

Step 2
Another great tip as provided by Christopher is develop a plot  by basically having a “what happens next” time log where students will communicate to cooperatively develop the story, establishing time, setting and twists and turns.

Step 3
Using Twitter for creative writing also gives students the opportunity to develop characters by answering questiosn such as “What is the character’s situation?” and “What are his or her goals?”.

Finally, Christopher suggests you ask your students to use this information to write a rough draft then use this cooperative strategy a few times and your students will become creative writing pros!

In Conclusion

These are just some of the great things you can do with Twitter in the classroom. Have a read of all these different blog posts from influential educational bloggers to get even more ideas and make sure you share any tips and tricks you have of your own!




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