The Ultimate Guide To Using Twitter In Education

Twitter seems to be here to stay. As one of the most popular ways for teachers, students, and the general public to communicate, it’s becoming a must-have tool in almost every teacher’s toolbox. However, numerous recent studies have shown that education in general has been slow to adopt social media.

In an effort to speed up this adoption process, below you’ll find a boatload of resources on the past, present, and future of Twitter in education as well as some helpful guides to using the tool in the classroom.

This guide is by no means exhaustive and is meant to be added to on a regular basis. To do that, Edudemic needs your help. Just share your favorite resource(s) on the Edudemic Facebook page and it’ll get added to this Ultimate Guide. Thanks in advance for your help!

The History of Communication

The following is a guest post excerpt from Ernesto Priego of The Guardian (UK). As part of the Guardian’s Higher Ed Network, Ernesto’s article explores the history of communication and how it is important to understand where we’ve been in order to understand where we’re going.

With that in mind, the future of communication in the form of social media is examined as a way to forever alter the world of education. However, there are problems. For instance, adoption is proving to be an issue as many are not quite ready to adopt new technology.

The idea of slow adoption was featured on Edudemic last week and is certainly going to be an issue going forth as well. It will be interesting to see if more schools around the world adopt Twitter and other social media technologies in order to bolster their education. In the meantime, it’s important to understand how far we’ve come already. Ernesto Priego has done just that below:

In chapter two of Christian Vandendorpe’s From Papyrus to Hypertext titled: In the beginning was the ear, Vandendorpe says it took millenia “for literature to free itself from primary orality, albeit not completely”.

In the beginning all reading was done out loud, and it was not until the 12th century that books were created for silent reading. Orthographic signs and the separation between words had appeared around the 7th century, but did not become common until the 9th century amongst the learned communities of monks. Walter J Ong, in his classic study of writing and orality, Orality and Literacy defines as the “technologizing of the word” the process of developing a new relationship between language and thought.

Something similar is happening today in academia. Just like Augustine marveled, in the year 400, at the sight of Ambrose reading in silence, many members of academia marvel (or react with rejection) at the rapid changes in the production and dissemination of scholarly work and interaction between academics and those “outside” academic institutions.

Thousands of scholars and higher education institutions are participating in social media (such as Twitter), as an important aspect of their research and teaching work.

There is still considerable resistance to embracing social media tools for educational purposes, but if you are reading this article you are probably willing to consider their positive effects. New technologies have slow adoption cycles, and often the learning curve is steep.

Those already using these tools within academic contexts should not be considered a priori as “the converted”; perception and usage of social media varies wildly, and due to the inherently fluid and malleable nature of the platforms themselves we are still in the process of assessing all their possibilities.

Read the full article on Guardian.co.uk here.

The Nuts and Bolts of Twitter In Education

Creative Ways To Use Twitter In Education

If you’re a fan of Twitter and teaching, hold onto your seatbelts. Thanks to Tom Barrett and his many collaborative Google Docs, you don’t need to worry about coming up with creative ways to use Twitter in your classroom. From engaging parents to interacting with students around the world, it’s all here.

Tom and dozens of other educators are working on a terrific Google Doc (embedded below) that details some wonderful ways to use the the social network in school. If you want to add to the Google Doc, click here.

The Twitter Experiment

Professors who wish to engage students during large lectures face an uphill battle. Not only is it a logistical impossibility for 200+ students to actively participate in a 90 minute lecture, but the downward sloping cone-shape of a lecture hall induces a one-to-many conversation. This problem is compounded by the recent budget cuts that have squeezed ever more students into each room.

Increased Participation

Fortunately, educators have found that Twitter is an effective way to broaden participation in lecture. Additionally, the ubiquity of laptops and smartphones have made the integration of Twitter a virtually bureaucracy-free endeavor.

Dr. Monica Rankin of the University of Texas at Dallas was pleasantly surprised when her experiment with Twitter began pulling more students into discussion. “It’s been really exciting because, in classes like this, you’ll have three people who talk about the discussion material, and so to actually have 30 or 40 people at the same time talking about it is really interesting,” said Megan Malone, Teaching Assistant to Dr. Monica Rankin’s United States history course.

During lecture, students tweet comments or questions via laptop or cell phone, while the TA and Dr. Rankin respond to a real-time feed displayed prominently in front of the room. Students who manage to live off the grid for 50 minutes can still pass in hand-written notes for the TA to tweet after class.

Overcoming Shyness In Class

Students in another Twitter-friendly classroom at Purdue University agree that digital communication helps overcome the shyness barrier. “It’s just an easy way to answer questions in class without embarrassing yourself and raising your hand in a big lecture hall,” said one student. Studies frequently discover that greater participation translates into better academic performance, motivation, and a likelihood of adopting different points of view, which is why it is so striking that Twitter can foster that type of communication.

For schools hit hard by the recession, Twitter is an inexpensive solution to the growing problem of increasing class sizes. It is a tried-and-true platform to let conversations flourish. Indeed, Dr. Parry declared that “it was the single thing that changed the classroom dynamics more than anything I’ve ever done teaching.”

Does Twitter Hurt Grades?

Although the infographic below does not cover using Twitter for personal use, it does show that Twitter can be an effective tool when used in an educational setting.

The infographic is based on a study of 125 college students, 70 of which where required to “use Twitter for educational purposes” and 55 of which were required to “communicate using a traditional learning system”.

The 50 Basic Steps To Using Twitter In Education

First Steps

  1. Build an account and immediately start using Twitter Search to listen for your name, the name of your school/college/poly/uni, and words that relate to your space. (Listening always comes first.)
  2. Add a picture of yourself. People want to see you. What type of picture – up to you, there is a whole load of diversity out there on this.
  3. Don’t just tweet about yourself, talk to other people about their interests, too.
  4. Point out interesting things happening in your classroom (whatever form that takes).
  5. Share links to neat things in your institution and/or community.
  6. Don’t get stuck in the apology loop. Be helpful instead.
  7. Be wary of always promoting your stuff. Your fans (aka mother) will love it. But hopefully you are reaching out to others as well.
  8. Promote your students’ stories, but be careful to maintain anonymity, particularly with kids.
  9. Be human.
  10. Talk about non-education stuff too, there is life outside your institution.

Ideas About WHAT to Tweet

  1. Instead of answering the question, “What are you doing?”, answer the question, “What has your attention?”
  2. Have more than one twitterer at your institution. People can quit. People take vacations. It’s nice to have a variety.
  3. When promoting a blog post, ask a question or explain what’s coming next, instead of just dumping a link.
  4. Ask questions. Twitter is GREAT for getting opinions.
  5. Follow interesting people. If you find someone who tweets interesting things, see who she follows, and follow her.
  6. Tweet about other people’s stuff. Make you human
  7. When you DO talk about your stuff, make it useful. Give advice, blog posts, pictures, etc.
  8. Share the human side of your institution. If you’re bothering to tweet, it means you believe social media has value for human connections. Point us to pictures and other human things.
  9. Don’t toot your own horn too much.
  10. Or, if you do, try to balance it out by promoting the heck out of others, too.

Share Your Resource!

This guide is by no means exhaustive and is meant to be added to on a regular basis. To do that, Edudemic needs your help. Just share your favorite resource(s) on the Edudemic Facebook page and it’ll get added to this Ultimate Guide. Thanks in advance for your help!

22 Comments

  1. @TheNerdi

    September 12, 2011 at 7:00 pm

    I especially like the infographic… There are huge advances to be made in this space in both traditional and alternate learning institutions.

  2. @hopkinsdavid

    September 13, 2011 at 3:36 am

    Excellent resources, and thanks for including my Twitter in Education presentation.

    All the best, David

  3. Pingback: OTR Links for 09/14/2011 « doug – off the record

  4. Pingback: Backchannel gone wrong « Tommy found a real book.

  5. Pingback: Compilation of twitter guides « Leetl's Weblog

  6. Pingback: My Web 2.0 Journey » Blog Archive » Interesting articles

  7. Pingback: Mijn Surftips van 09/17/2011 » Manssen.nl

  8. Pingback: Technology Resources on Twitter | LangCanada Blog

  9. Sherri

    September 29, 2011 at 10:38 am

    I am a huge fan of social media for socializing and Internet-based resources for education, but nothing here has convinced me that there is value in using Twitter for education. None of the statistics presented suggest that students learn more or better using Twitter, only that students are using Twitter and that they enjoy social media. They enjoy beer, too, and providing it in lectures would also probably increase attendance and participation. Quick and witty has it's place, but it does not replace meaningful and thoughtful. And, really, who are these people who care that I am having a cup of coffee?

  10. Pingback: New Teacher 2.0 with Paper.li | ifyoucantbeatem

  11. Pingback: Twitter and Education | Blog & Learn

  12. missnoor28

    November 5, 2011 at 4:27 am

    Thanks for sharing all the great resources.

    I do believe that SM and Twitter are becoming more important in education, for students and teachers alike. For me, Twitter has had a huge positive impact on my career life, as a tool for PD and a tool to build a great PLN of educators from all over the world, learning, sharing & collaborating! that what isTwitter about for me.

    And for those who’s still not convinced , well..as ” tomwhitby ” said at #authorspeak ” Teaching Twitter is like trying to teach swimming in a GYM. It doesn’t work until you jump in the pool. ”

    Some great resources on using SM in education from my PLN

    http://www.scoop.it/t/the-best-of-social-media

    Twitter in education

    http://www.scoop.it/t/the-best-of-twitter

    Hope you find them useful

    Noor.

  13. Pingback: The Ultimate Guide To Using Twitter In Education « El Aula Virtual

  14. Pingback: Principals and Twitter | 21st Century Teaching and Learning

  15. Pingback: The Ultimate Guide To Using Twitter In Education | Edudemic |

  16. Pingback: The Ultimate Guide To Using Twitter In Education | Edudemic « Educational Technology for Teachers

  17. Pingback: http://edudemic.com/2011/09/twitter-in-education/ | stuffaliknows

  18. Pingback: Connected educator! « Teaching English using web 2.0

  19. Pingback: The Updated Twitteraholic’s Guide to tweets, hashtags, and all things Twitter | The Edublogger

  20. Pingback: Twitter sarana peningkatan kompetensi guru (24/7) dalam genggaman | OpenThink SAS | Sistem Informasi Sekolah | Negeri Pelangi | Indonesia

  21. Pingback: Da li koristim twitter? Odgovor je DA! | Uz kafu…

  22. Pingback: Connected educator! | Teaching using web 2.0