Best Practices Teaching with Twitter

Twitter has become a common tool for communicating and collaborating that is part blog, part social networking site, and part mobile phone/IM tool. During this session at the 2012 SLATE Conference, October 12, 2012, Jason Rhode shared his experiences of incorporating online resource sharing chat activities, via Twitter, for mobile learning in an online course, as well as practical recommendations for those considering utilizing Twitter in teaching and learning. Participants were encouraged to bring their Twitter account to participate and use hashtag #twitterinedu

Also, this HootCourse was setup and used as an example of creating a restricted Twitter group for a course. Click here to join our backchannel on HootCourse!

Session Goals

  1. Build a foundation for why educators may wish to incorporate Twitter into their teaching, learning, and professional development
  2. Give examples of what a few other educators have done thus far implementing Twitter in their teaching
  3. Share the experiences of incorporating online resource sharing chat activities, via Twitter, for mobile learning in an online course
  4. Provide practical recommendations for those considering utilizing Twitter in teaching and learning
  5. Suggest available tutorials, resources and tools for those interested in getting started

Foundation

Twitter: The sublime, mighty community in 140 characters or less
Photo courtesy @inju on Flickr

Why should educators consider incorporating Twitter in their teaching? Here are just a few reasons:

  • Extend learning experiences beyond the “walls” of the classroom
  • Bring in current events to the curriculum
  • Engage students within lecture-based instruction
  • Connect students from across multiple sections or institutions
  • Reach out to experts in the field
  • Pull the world into your classroom
  • Introduce students to informal professional development

What other reasons come to mind for why educators may want to use Twitter in their teaching? Tweet your ideas using hashtag #twitterinedu

Examples

Here are a few examples of educators who have already leveraged Twitter in their teaching

Are you aware of other examples of educators using Twitter? Tweet links to examples using hashtag #twitterinedu

Literature

What research has been conducted thus far on the use of Twitter in education? Here are links to a few studies:

In addition, Jason Rhode maintains a collection of articles on Twitter in education bookmarked here.

Have another research article you’d recommend be added to this list? Tweet links to articles using hashtag #twitterinedu

Twitter beach
Photo courtesy @rosauraochoa on Flickr

Experiences

TwitterIn my summer 2012 course, EDT 6060 – Trends and Future of Technology in Education, I tried for the very first time incorporating a required Twitter chat exercise into the weekly activities. My goal in doing so was to expand the discussion beyond the scope of the typical Blackboard discussion space and to encourage my students to begin engaging in conversations with others within the field. Since we were looking at current events within the field of educational technology, this was the perfect course to incorporate such an activity on Twitter given the plethora of resources and fantastic ongoing conversations that take place on Twitter.

At the conclusion of the course, my students reflected on their learning experiences in the course. Here are a few quotes from my students concerning the Twitter chats that I wanted to share here in support of these sort of social networking activities within the online learning environment:

Even if a teacher/colleague has not yet embraced technology, they should still try to read journal articles either in print or online to stay breadth of the current technologies being offered. Perhaps one of those articles will spark an interest – as it is that spark that will move us into action. I think that people are scared by Twitter or have not experienced it enough to know that it is a way to view up to date information on topics of interest. I would bet that many teacher view Twitter like they view Facebook, as I was one of those in the past. All it takes is one person to force the teachers to use Twitter and they will start to see the benefits. And, I would like to say thank you Dr. J. for forcing me to Twitter, as I love it!

I never thought Twitter could be used in such a professional way for my job! I am so thankful to add this skill to my ways to keep up with new and changing educational advances!

I feel really proud of the progress that I’ve made (using Twitter in this course), but there’s a whole world on Twitter to explore and learn more about edtech. The articles are fascinating!

Twitter is awesome! I will definitely be checking it often and am going to let staff know of its benefits next year.

For anyone interested, below are the instructions for the Twitter chat assignments that I included in my course syllabus. You’re welcome to make use of these instructions or revise for your specific needs. If you find this idea helpful and/or if you plan to try in your own teaching, leave me a comment and let me know!

Twitter Resource Sharing Chat Instructions

In addition to engaging in discussion with classmates via the discussion board in Blackboard, you will share resources and engage with the broader educational community regarding current trends and future of technology in education on Twitter. In doing so, you will continue to expand your perspective beyond the "walls of our course" on the issues we’ll be exploring together.personal learning network and expand your If you haven’t already setup a free Twitter account in a previous class, please do so and be prepared to “tweet” using it throughout the course. For more information on getting started with Twitter, see https://sites.google.com/site/twitterinedu

Each week, you are expected to post a minimum of 5 tweets per week using both hashtags #edt6060 and #edtechtrends (only tweets that include both hashtags will be considered as intended for this class chat via Twitter).

  • At least one tweet must have a link to an online resource regarding current technology trends of future of educational technology that hasn’t already been shared by your instructor or classmates thus far in the course
  • At least one tweet must have a link to an online resource related to the topic(s) from the required reading(s) for the week that hasn’t already been shared by your instructor of classmates thus far in the course.
  • At least one tweet must be a public reply to a fellow classmate (beginning your tweet @username of the Twitter user you are responding to).
  • At least one tweet must be a public reply or mention to someone else not a member of the class (including somewhere in your tweet @username of the Twitter user you are responding to or mentioning).
  • One tweet may be a retweet (RT) of someone else

Using your preferred Twitter client, save searches of hashtags #edt6060 and #edtechtrends and follow the streams for each hashtag throughout the course.

Also, make an effort to follow at least one new educator on Twitter each week. For a directory of educators on Twitter, you may want to search Twitter directories such as wefollow.com, twellow.com, or tweetfind.com

What has your experience been using Twitter in your teaching, learning, or professional development? Tweet your experiences using hashtag #twitterinedu

Recommendations

Twitter: Good & Bad
Image courtesy @rosauraochoa on Flickr

Here are recommendations for those getting started teaching with Twitter:

  1. Setup an account for yourself and follow a few other educators. The first step is for you yourself to initially become comfortable with using Twitter and to learn from your own experience whether or not Twitter is right for you. After you setup a free account at twitter.com, then follow a few others. For starters, you may want to follow me at @jrhodee and my NIU colleagues @slrichter and @jeffminor. Other great places to find other Twitter users include directories like WeFollow.com or Twellow.com
  2. Use a Twitter app. While you can use Twitter from any web broswer, it is even easier to do so from a tablet or smart phone. If you have a mobile device, find an install a Twitter app and start using it. In the tools section below, links to recommended apps are shared.
  3. Try participating in a Twitter chat. As you begin following other educators, you may see mention of participating in a "twitter chat." This is simply a specified time during the week when individuals with similar interests engage in a chat on a specified topic using a chosen hashtag.
  4. Create a separate account for your class **optional**. If you’d like to keep course-specific tweets separate from your individual Twitter account, you can setup a separate Twitter account for your class. Examples include @wd1231 & @edt6030.
  5. Select a hashtag for your class and include it in your posts regarding the class. Select a unique hashtag and search Twitter to see if it is already in use. If not, then begin using it yourself to establish.
  6. Have your students who use Twitter follow you and use the designated hashtag in their course-related tweets. Include in your syllabus or other course information areas your Twitter username (or the Twitter username you’ve setup for your course) and remind students that they can follow you on Twitter.
  7. Set clear expectations for students on Twitter use in your course. Decide how you will use Twitter and then clearly communicate to students your expectations for their use of Twitter (if you require or simply make it an option) and let them know how/why you will use it.
  8. Post announcements, news, and other information items of interest using your selected hashtag. At a minimum, you can use Twitter to post news items for students.
  9. Set clear expectations for students on Twitter use in your course. Decide how you will use Twitter and then clearly communicate to students your expectations for their use of Twitter (if you require or simply make it an option) and let them know how/why you will use it.
  10. Create a list for each section and/or all students and add students to the list for easy sorting and viewing without following. If you prefer to not follow your students (personal preference), you can create a list and add all your students to your list. Once doing so, you’ll be able to easily view all tweets for a class section.
  11. Save a search of your course hashtag for easy access. Once saving a search, you can easily then return to that search from within your preferred Twitter app on Twitter.com
  12. Follow your institution. See if your institution is on Twitter, and follow!
  13. Don’t feel like you need to read all tweets from users your follow. Twitter is more like a stream than a pond…information just keeps flowing by constantly. Just dip in and dip out as you are able and enjoy!

What recommendations do you have for educators looking to get started teaching with Twitter? Tweet your experiences using hashtag #twitterinedu

Tutorials and Guides

Want to get started with Twitter? Here are some suggested tutorials and printable help guides:

Know of another Twitter tutorial that you’d recommend for educators? Tweet links to tutorials using hashtag #twitterinedu

Resources

Social Media for Educators - book by Tanya Joosten
book by @tjoosten

Here are additional suggested resources offering additional perspectives and best practices for educators on teaching with Twitter:

Have another Twitter-related resource for educators that you recommend? Tweet links to tutorials using hashtag #twitterinedu

Tools

Recommended free and/or low cost tools include:

  • Audioboo – mobile app for iOS, Android & Nokia, easily record audio podcasts from your mobile device and post directly to Twitter (free)
  • Bit.ly – create and track custom short URLs (free)
  • Bufferapp.com – setup free account to “buffer” your tweets to be sent later, also makes it easy to tweet via email (free)
  • Flipboard – app for tablet or smart phone to create magazine-style view of tweets for specific course hashtag (free)
  • HootCourse – create secured Twitter channel for your course (free)
  • HootSuite – powerful Twitter management tool, allows for scheduling of tweets (free & premium versions)
  • IFTTT.com – automate various types of posts to/from Twitter (free)
  • Packrati.us – bookmark your Twitter links (free)
  • Screenr.com – easily record screencasts up to 5 mins. in length with no software to install and share via Twitter (free)
  • Tweetbot – preferred Twitter app for iOS, syncs multiple iOS devices using iCloud ($??)
  • Twijector – utility for showing stream of Tweets full-screen during class (free)
  • Twitcam – live stream via Twitter; Twitcam posts your video description and link to Twitter for all your followers to see. While broadcasting, chat with your viewers via Twitter right from your broadcast page. Once you’re done going live, video is archived and displayed on the same page.
  • twitrand – select random twitter follower
  • TwitterFeed – utility for automatically posting new items from any RSS feed to Twitter (free)
  • Twtpoll – conduct polls easily via Twitter (free)
  • Visible Tweets – utility for showing random tweets for a specified hashtag, transitions between (free)

Do you use another Twitter tool that you recommend? Tweet your suggested tools using hashtag #twitterinedu

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