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Using Twitter in Education

Note to Teachers and Professional Development Leaders. imagesCAQB4QS4.jpg

This Twitter Wiki has been designed with the needs of individual teachers in mind and can be used in a number of ways:
  • An ICT Teacher Champion or professional development leader can present all or part of this (depending upon identified learner need), to staff members at a single session or multiple professional development sessions
  • The included powerpoint document can be saved and used at any time, without needing access to Wikispaces and can also be emailed to teachers for their own reference, follow up learning and exploration
  • Teachers can access either this Wiki page or the included powerpoint, in their own time, whereby they can explore and learn at their own pace and in accordance with their individual learning need

What is Twitter?

A humorous introduction to a common view of what Twitter looks like:

Twitter is a micro-blogging platform that provides users with the ability to write updates and messages of up to 140 characters in length, at any time. It can be used in a range of ways, from egocentric personalities letting the world know what they are up to, to useful educational and scientific forums. It is the first of these that perhaps has resulted in the poor impression many have of Twitter. However, following an investigation of applications in education, it becomes clear that Twitter can in fact be a valuable tool for collaborative learning and educational discussion among students.

‘Many people see short messages as a shortcoming and don’t recognise Twitter’s strengths.’ (Bell & Kuon 2009) There are many ways in which Twitter can be used in educational settings for the benefit of both students and teachers. A few of these have been briefly outlined on this page.

How are some schools using Twitter?

Example One.wmv
  • Planet QeJ Earth Exploration : This is an example of Twitter being used with 9-11 year olds in a collaborative project across schools, involving Science, Geography and Literacy. View the associated Twitter account at http://twitter.com/planet_QEJ.

Example Two.wmv
  • The Gunpowder Plot - again for 9-11 year olds. Students created a Twitter account for Robert Catesby, leader of the Gunpowder Plot. They researched that occurred after Fawkes' capture, then used Hootsuite to schedule tweets. You can also view the associated twitter account at http://twitter.com/LCS_RCatesby.

Example Three.wmv

Example Four.wmv
  • This Twitter Experiment was used at University; however, could also be useful in the context of VCE lecture-style classes. It involves live comments, questions and feedback tweeted by students and then displayed (via Tweetdeck) on a large screen in real time, and, whilst the teacher/lecturer is talking.

Example Five.wmv
  • This is an example of how Twitter can be used by subject leaders in a school, using visibletweets.com to see what people had been tweeting about, then using this as a source for discussion.

(Cooper-Taylor, 2010)

Other examples and ideas: 100 Ways to Teach with Twitter

When is Twitter an appropriate and useful educational tool?

Teachers can use Twitter to:
  • Communicate with other teachers
    • Form collaborative learning environments or online communities of practice
    • Share and discuss ideas and resources
  • Search for resource recommendations
  • Follow other exciting educational leaders from around the world
  • Search for specific information that will provide ideas and professional development
  • Engage students in and out of the classroom
  • Communicate with parents or students

Students can use Twitter to:

  • Brainstorm concepts and ideas
  • Discuss ideas with individuals or a group
  • Project-manage assignments
  • Point to resources
  • Send out questions to others
  • Enhance reading comprehension skills
    • Respond to texts
    • Participate in a Twitter Book Club or Literature Circle
    • Develop reading strategies (For example, summarise texts in the style of Twitterature, although not necessarily with the same colourful language as found in the publisher's example)
  • Write
    • Develop literacy skills, speed and fluency
    • Collaborative writing tasks – poetry, short stories
    • Storytweetcompetitions
    • Story beginnings or story starters to share or swap
  • Learn social responsibility
  • Further develop their digital literacy

When is Twitter an inappropriate tool?

In an educational context, Twitter becomes an inappropriate tool when students and teachers use it to tell followers literally 'what's happening' in their social and personal lives. Many who use Twitter as their 'personal learning network' become frustrated when others use it in a more social context. It is also not appropriate to use Twitter to send negative or rude messages to others.
Twitter is not useful in education when more than 140 characters are required.

How to get started with Twitter:

Who to follow? Build your personal network, follow 50-60 active Twitterers before you decide who is useful. Betcher 2010 has excellent advice on how to do this. You can also use this online directory of learning professionals or this Wiki: http://twitter4teachers.pbworks.com/ to begin with. After a while, it becomes clear who is useful to you, or not. In addition, further valuable Twitterers can be found from whom you follow.

Frequently asked questions Have a look at this link for more general information about Twitter.

How to use and set up Twitter lists You can sort the people you follow into groups and lists.

Manage your groups and lists with a program called TweetDeck. This is a desktop program that allows you to sort tweets into columns according to lists and groups which you have created:

How to get the most out of Twitter #Hashtags Use #tags to search for tweets on a particular subject and also to identify the subject on which you are tweeting.

How to 'tweet' pictures using twitpic.

Glossary of Twitter-associated Terms

Pitfalls for Beginners

Ritchie (2009) outlines some of the negative aspects of Twitter:
- Privacy issues if teachers try to maintain personal and professional accounts
- Pupils being distracted during class if they’re allowed to tweet on their phones
- Neuroscientist Baroness Susan Greenfield recently claimed that social networking could result in an inability to empathise with others
- We can’t predict the future: Twitter might yet be judged a fleeting internet phenomenon.

external image x-zip.png Pitfalls of Twitter.docx

Remember 'SPEL' = Security, Professionalism, Etiquette, List Management