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Tweet Spot: Web 2.0 Educators Are Atwitter About Twitter

Chris O'Neal

Educational consultant and former blogger
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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

Last updated: 10/25/2011
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Chris O'Neal

Educational consultant and former blogger

Comments (32) Sign in or register to comment Follow Subscribe to comments via RSS

Stephanie's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I think as with Wikis - where anyone can edit content (because that's what wikis were built to do), Twitters can either be productive or spiral into a difficult situation. I hope that someday there will be truly private technology, in which a teacher will be able to control the chat - as with a live class - on both platforms. Until then, I can't plan a lesson around them because the risk is too great. Any ideas?

Stacy Jones's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Thanks for the alternatives, Barbara. Twitter is blocked in Tennessee schools by the state. I am getting laptops as part of a 1 to 1 initiative sometime this school year and would like to have an alternative to Twitter. I want students to use the site to generate instant responses to our readings during class discussion, since all students in my class will have the technology to do so. I tried at school and it is also blocked, but seems to work.


Kimberly's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

While my school doesn't have the in-classroom capability for using Twitter, I have adopted the character length idea when working on Main Idea in Reading and Language Arts classes. It's still a paper-and-pencil activity, but the kids know and accept the form, when I compare it with Twitter.

LeilaH's picture

Great info. that would be useful for me.I had my twitter for sometime now, instead of just using Twitter to tell people about your dog's bowel movements, or all kinds of other minutiae that no one in their right mind would care about, you CAN use Twitter to make a little cash on the side. If you have a large enough following, there are companies that are willing to pay people to advertise through social networking sites. Granted, it isn't as if sponsored Tweets going to add up to several payday loans worth every month - it takes time, but with a little bit of hard work you can make an extra house payment or car payment every month.

Anders Jane's picture

[quote]I became addicted to Twitter while at a conference. I could hear about other sessions while only sitting in one. It's been a great way to have feedback from other professionals in a quick manner. I do tech integration for 17 buildings, so I'm hoping to get all of the "techies" in the buildings on Twitter to help me keep in touch with what's going on.

Feel free to find me on Twitter! plvitf[/quote]

The same happened to me. I am crazy about connecting to great people online. It doesn't matter if they are famous politicians, idol stars, tweeting now and then or journalists. I think there is nothing better than getting in the middle of things at the right time.

Barbara Goodwin's picture

8th grade blitz is Thurs and Fri this week in the middle school library. This was so successful last year, I'm glad we will do it again.

Barbara Goodwin's picture

Students in small groups will do a round robin review with stoppping @ 16 different sessions with 16 different teachers. You can do it 8th graders!


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