Educational Uses of Twitter in Teaching, Learning, and Socializing
TL;DR version: Twitter is a communication tool that allows for open collaboration to aid in teaching, learning, & socializing online.
To get started with Twitter, first get an account. After you create your account, you’ll need to make sense of the individual tweets and the chats or discussions. I then recommend using an app to make sense of Twitter. Finally, there are several services out there than can help you synthesize the “firehose” of information
What elements are involved in a tweet?
Twitter is a communication tool that allows participants to provide updates in 140 characters or less. 10,000s of educators from across the world use Twitter. The benefit of Twitter is that it is an open and global conversation.
There are several elements of a tweet that you need to understand as you read and write in Twitter.
How do I discuss on Twitter?
Every week discussions occur in real-time on a variety of topics. Users follow the discussions using hashtags. A hashtag is identified by the “#” sign.
There are numerous hashtags and chats that may interest you. To view a full list of discussions please click here. Here are just a few:
#edchat — A weekly discussion (2x on Tuesday) on a participant chosen topic
#edtech — A hashtag used by educational technology enthusiasts
#EduIT — A hashtag for Educational IT specialists
#BlackEdu — A weekly converation about serving the underrepresented and overcoming the opportunity gap
#STEM — A hashtag used by educators discussing issues in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math education
Use an app to make sense of Twitter
Twitter is a powerful social network that can be used to connect, share, and explore multiple topics. I rarely use Twitter through the main website, or Twitter sanctioned apps. On my computer, I use the Tweetdeck, or HootSuite app for Chrome. On an Android device, I use either Plume or Fenix when using Twitter. On the iPad and iPhone, I prefer Hootsuite. The reason for focusing on these is the use of columns.
You can watch how I negotiate these columns in this video screencast from one of my classes.
Use a service to help synthesize the “firehose” of information available
It can often become overwhelming to review the wealth of information available on Twitter. To help search and sift through all of this information, there are several options to help you curate.
- To keep it simple, services like Paper.li and News.me will take the links that your friends share on Twitter and/or Facebook and provide you with a daily “newspaper” of the most important things you need to know from that day. Take a look at my “newspaper” from Paper.li.
- If you want to get a little more online content to consume, apps on your Android device, iPhone, and iPad like Nuzzel, Feedly, or Flipboard will take the links from Twitter, Facebook, Google Reader, etc. and create a visually stunning magazine that you can review and “read” what you may have missed during the day. I use Feedly and Nuzzel daily.
- Finally, for the super-advanced users, web apps like Bottlenose allow you to review links and information shared on Twitter, and research how it all interconnects to other online informational sources.