Facebook
Edutopia on Facebook
Twitter
Edutopia on Twitter
Google+
Edutopia on Google+
Pinterest
Edutopia on Pinterest Follow Me on Pinterest
WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation
Subscribe to RSS

Tweet Spot: Web 2.0 Educators Are Atwitter About Twitter

Chris O'Neal

Educational consultant and former Edutopia.org blogger

Twitter is a Web 2.0 utility that asks the question "What are you up to?" It's a microblogging platform that allows users to share small tidbits about their current activities, locations, plans, and more. I can send out a Twitter update using my cell phone or my blog or by logging into the Twitter Web site.

Think of it as a way to mass-blast your thoughts or schedule to anyone who's interested in following you. These Twitter blasts (also called tweets) are short -- no more than 140 characters per post -- so this is certainly not a way to discuss intense details or give exhaustive updates.

I use my Twitter account only from time to time, just to stay in the loop with fellow Web 2.0 educators. I follow a handful of people, which means I'm alerted to their latest tweets. A few people follow me as well. It's a nice way to keep up informally with colleagues, family, or friends. I tweet about what I'm working on, or where I'm headed as far as work goes. I can decide whether my tweets are public to the world or only to a select group of people.

In the classroom, I might set up a Twitter account for just my students and their parents. We can all update our little community about what we're up to in class. I also think it would be interesting to track brainstorms -- students immediately post a thought on Twitter as it enters their head, regardless of whether that idea fits into the current classroom lesson, making the site, if you will, a "parking lot" for thoughts. Or students can share requested information with their peers using the Twitter account.

A teacher might also share short updates at the end of each school week as a simple way to keep parents informed. As a creative project, a teacher could post a short-story starter, then let students continue to write the story as a group, each taking turns creating the next sentence or two. At the very least, it's a fantastic way to watch participants join in on a conversation and view that conversation as it unfolds.

I'm sharing my enthusiasm for Twitter with you just to hear your thoughts, let you know about its capabilities, and offer up another Web 2.0 tool for you to play around with. At the very least, it's something to explore for now. Try it out in test mode with your students or fellow teachers, or experiment with it yourself should you have the interest.

I'm not sure I've seen Twitter yet in all its glory in the classroom, but I'm hearing about it more and more, and it's certainly gaining popularity in numbers -- as of now, up to about a million people use it. Join the group, and find me on the site at onealchris.

Respond to this blog and let us know what you're up to! Give your feedback on whether you think this is a worthy classroom tool and, more important, where you think it might fit into the classroom environment.

Here is a quick video overview about Twitter on TeacherTube.com.

Last updated: 10/25/2011

Chris O'Neal

Educational consultant and former Edutopia.org blogger
Related Tags:

Comments (32)Sign in or register to postSubscribe to comments via RSS

davidcosand's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I've been using Twitter since last fall. I love the ability to connect with the basic happenings of other people's days and the brilliant epiphanies that burst forth at the most unexpected moments.
I follow (and am followed by) several educators, as well as friends, people with similar interests, and a few interesting strangers.
Here in Oregon, there is a small but definite Twitterverse that overlaps in some wonderfully interesting ways.
As a fourth grade teacher, I don't think Twitter would be a reasonable way to stay connected with my students. The blog and discussion forum work much better for that. At the high or even middle school level I could imagine an excellent response, however.

Jenny Zagariello's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I wonder if it would be possible to use Twitter as a formative assessmsnt tool - like a new type of student response system?

Claudia Ceraso's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I joined Twitter a year ago. I was curious at a new tool, did my analysis of it and plunged into it. I can only say I have found fantastic networking results more than potential to Twitter. I have stopped thinking about possible uses with students because I think that the examples of edubloggers uses themselves beat my imagination. To give you an idea of what I mean,I have collected some examples in this wiki:
http://twitter-casts.wikispaces.com

Judi's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Has anyone devised a way to use Twitter (and student cell phones) as a response system in the class?

Chris ONeal's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Here's a fun overview video

lindargeorge's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I love Twitter. I have learned so much from my Twitter colleagues. Links, lesson plans, ideas, and on-the-edge technology are all there for the peeking. I don't offer much to this bunch because they, as a group, know so much more than I will ever know. But I enjoy the experience, nonetheless.

Connie's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

If it's your video - consider uploading it to teachertube.com, since it's teaching related. Youtube is blocked for me at school, teachertube is not.

Karen's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I recently attended a technology conference where people were talking up a storm abotu twitters. I can honestly say I had no idea what they were talking about. I have only been out of school for 6 years and in the classroom, but it is amazing how much technology has changed since then. Since my knowledge of twitter is still so limited, I wonder, is it hard to get this program at public schools? Is is already being blocked by system servers?

John's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I teach in a middle school where students are assigned to teams. Each teacher on my team has a Twitter account, and we use it to keep daily notes on students, activities, class lessons, etc. It's like a team meeting that continues all day long. As an added bonus, Twitter serves as an electronic paper trail in the event that we need to look back at a particular student.

Sign in and Join the Discussion! Not a member? Register to join the discussion.