Monday, February 3, 2014

Using Twitter for Education

Twitter is an online social networking and microblogging service that enables users to send and read "tweets", which are text messages limited to 140 characters. Registered users can read and post tweets, but unregistered users can only read them. Social media technology such as Twitter offers many opportunities for learning in the classroom, brings together the ability to collaborate and access worldwide resources, and creates new and interesting ways to communicate in one easily accessible place.

The Basics

  • There are no age restrictions for having a Twitter account
  • Privacy - can be set up so that only those you allow to follow you can see your "tweets". This is useful when using Twitter for class projects.
  • Style - short commentary, link sharing, simple questions and thoughts, informal
  • Pace - quick, great for synchronous activities


  • Opportunity to explore the world
  • Allows for quick, yet poignant reflections and observations
  • Can bring in the opinions and research of guest speakers and experts
  • Provides live commentary on people and events


  • Ideas can get lost if not tagged properly
  • Limited characters which may limit thoughts and expressions

 Sample Lesson Ideas

  • Synchronous:

    • Group project or presentation feedback
    • Questions on an assignment
    • Brainstorming
    • Exam preparation
    • Progressive collaborative writing. Students agree to take turns contributing to an account or story over a period of time 
  • Asynchronous:

    • Engagement outside of class
    • Preparing for next day
    • Just-in-time "quizzing" - post questions about the lesson as they are studying
    • Follow an event as it unfolds
    • Learning and practicing foreign languages - post questions and ask students to respond in the same language or to translate the tweet into their native language 

Examples of Uses

  • Communication:

    • Bulletin board to notify students of changes in the schedule and/or assignments
    • Student engagement in large lectures - In large lecture classes where student participation can be intimidating and logistically problematic, Twitter can make it easy for students to engage and discuss during class time.
    • Classroom notepad - Using a Twitter hashtag, it’s easy to organize inspiration, reading, ideas, and more for the classroom to share.
    • Pop quiz - Send out quick quizzes on Twitter, and have them count for bonus points in the classroom.
    • Link sharing - With Twitter, students can share websites with class, making relevant link finding and sharing a classroom assignment.
  • Organization:

    • Recaps - At the end of a lecture, the instructor can summarize what has been learned in the classroom, encouraging reflection and discussion between students.
    • Gathering class comments - Use class hashtags to organize comments, questions and feedback that students have used in class, while also projecting live tweets in class for discussion.
  • Resources:

    • Search tool to find information about famous people and events
    • Communicate with experts- Find authors, scientists, or historians on Twitter and get connected
    • Source evaluation - Students can share resources and discuss whether it’s a good or bad source of information, encouraging comments
    • Gather real-world data as it happens
    • Following the government - Often, local and national political figures have Twitter feeds, and students in the classroom can track their progress.
  • Writing Skills:

    • As long as students are held accountable for their grammar, using Twitter offers a great opportunity for improving writing and punctuation.
    • Reading assignment summaries - Students can build 140-character summaries based on reading assignments, forcing a focus on quality.

More Information:

60 Ways to Use Twitter in the Classroom

Top Ten Uses of Twitter for Education by Steve Wheeler

How to Find Exactly What You Want in Twitter - Amazing Twitter Secrets for Educators - Part One and Part Two

How Twitter changed the world, hashtag-by-hashtag - An interesting history about how Twitter is about to become the most expensive watercooler in history.

Twitter - its history, features, and technology

Twitter Handbook for Teachers