Using Twitter with your students
Twitter allows you and your students to communicate short messages to each other either by computer, or more popular, by smart phones. Used as a synchronous or asynchronous tool, Twitter can help build a community of learners that engages students and allows them to learn from each other. For online courses, it can help meet the Regular, Effective Contact regulations.
As an instructor, it might be best to set up a class account, as opposed to using your personal account. Create an account.
Once you do so, invite your students to “follow” you. When students follow you, you will simply be sending one-way “tweets” to your students. That might work just fine for you. Here are some things you can do:
- Post links to handouts and notes
- Post links to sites illustrating points in class
- Post reminders for class events
- Post links to YouTube videos
- Post a question from an upcoming test
- Post summaries from class or textbooks
- Poll or survey students
If everyone in the class, including you, follows each other--or if you simply use hashtags for your conversations--richer communication can take place. Students can do the following:
- Tweet their thoughts on readings
- Tweet their thoughts about other things related to the class, such as blog posts and videos
- Ask—and answer--questions about assignments
- Role-play different historical characters
- Role-play characters in a book
- Tweet during a lecture, and you can project those tweets on the screen to get feedback in real time
Here are a couple of other ways students can use Twitter:
- Follow others who work in careers related to the class
- Follow someone tweeting in a different language to help learn that language
Aside from communicating short, typed messages (a maximum of 140 characters), you can also tweet web addresses to send students to specific web sites. Since web addresses can sometimes be lengthy, you can use a service to shorten the address, then copy and paste it into a tweet. Two such services are:
Finally, if you use Blackboard, you can add a Twitter link inside your course, or you can even show the Twitter feed (the messages) directly in Blackboard. Here's how to show the Twitter feed:
- In Twitter, click your profile picture.
- Click Settings - Widgets - Edit.
- Copy the code.
- Go to Blackboard, and in one of your classes, create an item in a content area, and name it.
- In the text box editor, click the HTML button, paste the code, and hit Submit.