Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Twitter in Education

First of all…I’d just like to say that I am having a change of heart, in regards to Twitter, that is. My change of heart officially began this past Saturday at the Technology Conference I attended at Erickson Hall. When the conference began, Twitter was quickly highlighted as a way for individuals to “backchannel” during the day. (In case you’re confused, the term “backchannel” refers to the practice of using networked computers to maintain a real-time online conversation alongside live spoken remarks.)

Anyway, I was immediately reminded that I do, in fact, have a Twitter account! This is something that I had completely forgotten about. Earlier in the year, when I first began using Twitter, I was not impressed and commenced to setting it aside for a long period of time. Well, to make a long story short…I realized, after spending time reconnecting with my Twitter account during the conference, that Twitter can be VERY beneficial when used in a way that promotes learning and education. So, I would like to discuss a few ways in which an educator can utilize Twitter in a valuable way.
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As a pre-service and future teacher, I want to engage my students. Twitter is a relatively new and highly proficient form of communication that can do just that. The use of Twitter in a classroom can increase the amount of chatter that occurs. This is a GOOD thing because, before long, the students will begin using Twitter to have conversations both inside and OUTSIDE of the class. I believe this can help develop a sense of "classroom community" as students begin to build an understanding of who their peers are in school and outside the classroom space. Twitter can also be used as a way for students to backchannel during class; that is, if your school has the resources to provided their students with laptops/computers. Talk about open communication! Obviously, there are things to consider when allowing students to Tweet during class. Twitter may enhance students’ abilities to talk to inappropriate people or to discuss inappropriate topics; but, sites such as Youth Twitter or Today’s Meet allow teachers to monitor who and what students are discussing. Opening your classroom to back-channeling can promote metacognitive thinking. (Metacognitive thinking refers to the practice of thinking about and reflecting on your learning.) What I mean is that Twitter, if used as a classroom tool, can enhance students’ abilities to think about HOW they are thinking and learning.

I think Twitter could also be used as a way to remind students about homework, trips and other classroom things, especially since they can enter their mobile phone number to be alerted when a peer or teacher “tweets” such information.

There are so many technological innovations popping up everywhere that, as educators, we have many opportunities to use sites, such as Twitter, and other social media tools in a way that can cater to 21st century students.


  1. I'm glad you like twitter! make sure you follow MSUcollegeofed

  2. I'm not a fan of twitter and have therefor found myself avoiding it unless required to work with it and fortunately, for me, that hasn't been the case in a while!
    I do think it's great that you were able to have a change of heart and maybe I will be able to do the same...I do see the classroom benefits, especially as a motivation tool seeing as it is something a lot of people are engaging in and familiar with, but other than that I can't see myself hopping on just to tweet for the heck of it...
    As for actually incorporating it into my classroom...not so much...i think i'd need more convincing, but maybe in time i will come around!
    Thanks for the post...i never knew about youth twitter and today's meet, but those are definitely of my concerns was that students would take advantage and get off task, but this is easily avoidable with features such as the ones you mention.

  3. I think this idea of back-channeling in the classroom is great! thanks for the links to both youth twitter and today's meet. i think i need to check those out!

  4. Thank you so much for the ideas about how to use Twitter. I have been very on the line about whether I really like it or not and then I realized after reading this and talking to someone else who did the same class at the technology conference that I am not using my Twitter to its potential. I can now at least see why Greg introduced us to this type of technology. The first I heard about Twitter was on the know how they say this celeb said this and blah blah blah. This automatically turned me off because I'm not one of those people who needs to know what everyone is doing at every second of the day. But now after reading your post I can rest at ease that Twitter is not so bad and I can cross over to a Twitter supporter!