Twitter in the Classroom

It is difficult at best to keep up with the latest in technology let alone find an acceptable use for it in the classroom. Add to that school policy on cell phones, Internet blocking software, and the epidemic of text messaging and teachers are doing well to hold their own.

Now comes Twittering. This is essentially text messaging limited to 140 characters and it is can be sent as broadcast messaging and Instant Messaging to one person or several. Twittering can be limited to friends or as a subscription. However, its importance in the classroom, if allowed, is its potential to motivate students to share ideas and to even improve their note taking abilities.

First, you need to register your name. Try for a video and more information. You can also practice on that site and you can follow others who can provide ideas and guidance. I suggest you make your Twitter stream private, there is no need for it to be on the Internet. This also makes it mush safer for classroom use where you can communicate with your students and answer questions in nearly real time, if you have the time.

Remembering that Twitter is like Post It Notes, quick and to the point, and not email, which is more formal and has many more functions. Twitter is fast, and if you want to get more involved there are hashtags, a Twitter search engine and Retweeting.

To start to use Twitter students must sign-up for your Twitter feed and you obviously need to budget time to answer the Twits you receive. After that I recommend you start small and expand as your time and interests permit. Remember to make sure you have administrative and parental approvals.

Here are some ideas I have come up with for the public school classes. First, a quick review of what was covered and what is going to be covered in class that day or the next. Secondly, a few quick review questions and some good websites to add depth to a lesson. Thirdly, privately seeking questions from students who don’t have the moxy to ask in class. Next, the ability to quickly relate what is happening in the news to the class and make teachable moments more meaningful and more personal. And, Twitter can also be used to share ideas, help absent students keep up with work, and provide homework assistance.

What may be the greatest use of Twitter is the networking possibilities with students around the world. For example, while your class is studying Japan’s involvement in World War Two students in Japan could be sending messages about their perspective. As the visionary Marshall McLuhan envisioned, Twitter makes possible an immediate Global Village.

The possibilities are vast, but remember that some students may have to pay a fee for such text messages and so check before hand and always make Twittering an elective. Of course, students can set their Twitter so all messages come as emails, which is the only way to really avoid these charges, but this does remove some of the immediacy of the Twitter concept.

There are some ideas posted here that are used by a professor in Texas that might key some ideas for the public school classroom.

Obviously, there are down sides and caveats to using Twitter in the classroom and all such ideas need to be supported by the administration. But there are upsides as well. Imagine the students following President Obama’s by subscribing to his Tweets or getting Tweets from students who are under duress around the world.

As a teacher you can also use Twitter search to find other educators and learn about conferences, ideas, and even share lessons and concerns.
Other areas to explore include edmodo. This service enables teachers and students to send files, links, and even assignments to each other. Teachers sign-up for an account and create a class code. Students sign-up and the messages are held to just those in the loop. A great tool for ESL and gifted students and others who need a differentiated curriculum.

Twitter in the Classroom (University)


Twitter in the Classroom

Some insights into how Twitter can help you as a person.

A little vague, but stretches the reach of Twitter and helps one understand the value of such a program outside the educational realm.

21 Ways to use Twitter in the Classroom

Seven Things You Should Know about Twitter

Huge listing of free technology links

Teach with Computer Games

Clean up your computer

Free virus software

Free software for Teachers

Protecting your students and yourself on the Internet

Other technology resources

Educational Software