Social media platforms can be a teacher’s best friend…or worst enemy. With an internet enabled smartphone in nearly every student’s pocket nowadays, the competition for attention has never been more intense. Conversely, the opportunity for teacher-student interaction has never been greater.
By using the tips established in this guide we’ll help you to understand the best ways to use twitter to elevate your educational experience, and give you specific ways to use twitter to enhance your education.
For simplicity’s sake we’ve broken this guide up into several subsections that each detail different aspects of Twitter’s potential for academic use. The subsections will continue as follows:
- Increase Interaction
- Optimize Organization (post due dates, etc.)
- Keep Current
- Cultivate Creativity
More Participation in Large Lecture
Sharing your opinion or asking a question in a classroom full of hundreds of peers can be really intimidating for students. Having students tweet their ideas and questions instead of sharing them vocally may help students feel more comfortable and participate more.
Share What You Learned/ One Tweet Lesson Summaries
Have students share what they learned during lecture after each class by using a specific class hashtag. A creative way to do this is to ask each student to post a one tweet summary of that day’s lecture. This will allow students to learn from their peers, and will help them to stay up-to-date when they miss a day.
Get a Sister Classroom
Take penpals to the next level by using twitter to interact with a sister classroom. Collaborate on projects with students from around the world and get a different world perspective on classic topics and subjects.
In-class Polls or Quizzes
Using hashtags to generate live, in-class polls and quizzes can help students get involved and learn from their peers. This activity is particularly helpful in large class sections.
Tweet Industry Professionals
Encouraging students to learn from current industry professionals in the field of their choice will help them to see how the concepts that they are learning are applied in real world situations. It will also provide them valuable networking opportunities.
Get Instant Feedback on the Learning Process
Instead of waiting the entire semester to receive a post-class student evaluation, you can receive feedback periodically throughout the school year with Twitter. Ask students for suggestions and comments on things you should start, stop, and continue doing.
Give Students Instant Feedback
Let students know how they did on papers, projects, and other assignments as you grade them. For confidentiality reasons it is best to do this through direct messages.
Extend the Discussion Beyond Class
Post a discussion question on your twitter account and have students respond in comments and retweets to encourage discussion of classroom concepts beyond the classroom.
Share Sample Questions
If an exam is quickly approaching it could be very helpful to your students if you periodically tweet example questions that could appear on the test. This will help students to keep the information fresh in their minds, and get them to study the material in places where they likely wouldn’t before.
Network with other professors
Reach out to other professors to get new ideas on how to teach difficult concepts, find new classroom activities, or even find a guest lecturer for your section.
Connect with the Community
Using Twitter to have your class communicate with the surrounding community can be a great way to expand the classroom experience. Have your students interact and get involved with different local organizations as part of a semester long project.
Share Lesson Plans Before Lecture
Posting your lesson plans on Twitter the night before class will help your students to know what to focus on as they prepare for class the next day. You may choose to post specific parts of the reading that you hope students pay particular attention to, or even share thought questions for students to contemplate as they do their reading and other assignments.
Changes to the Syllabus
Posting changes to the class syllabus on twitter can be an extremely quick and efficient way to make students aware. It will also help you to keep a log of changes made to the syllabus over the course of the learning period.
Keep Parents Up-to-Date
By live tweeting class periods, or posting short summaries of class discussions, you can connect with parents and keep them in the loop with school happenings and details. This tactic is best suited to teachers of lower grade levels.
Upcoming Due Dates
Make sure your students never miss an assignment by posting upcoming due dates regularly on Twitter. If you schedule your posts around the same time every day your students will get used to checking in to see what assignments they need to finish soon.
Summarize the main concepts from any given class period in 140 characters to give students a quick summary of the day’s most important points. A compilation of these summaries can then be used to create a basic study guide or quick reference for students.
By assigning someone to live tweet each class period, you will create notes that students can look back on to remember a day’s activities, and a guide to help students who missed a day of class. It is best to organize these tweets with a specific hashtag such as #film202day5 to make them easily searchable and archivable.
Create a Class Newsfeed
By selecting a variety of accounts for your class to follow you can create a personalized news feed that automatically updates as the semester goes on. As students read the articles in the news feed they will see the real world application to subjects that they are studying.
Track What’s Trending
Keep a pulse on what’s happening in the world in real time by using Twitter’s trending tab to follow the most talked about events on the internet. Keep track on what trends throughout the semester and compile an interesting report at the year’s end.
See How News is Slanted
Have your class follow a variety of news accounts that each have different political and social biases (i.e. CBS and Fox). Through the course of the semester have students analyze how each news account presents the same story in a different light. This can help students gain critical thinking skills, broaden their beliefs, and even learn how to write persuasively.
Live Tweet Events
Have required viewings in your class? Assign your students to live tweet them as they watch. This helps to ensure that students actually watch the events you assign and stay engaged as they do so.
Encourage students to follow users that are currently employed in their dream profession. This will help students to see the day-to-day activities of the job that they aspire to, and will give them the chance to build relationships through networking if they choose to do so.
One of the easiest ways to use Twitter in the classroom is to have students follow your personal profile and encourage them to read articles that you retweet from other relevant sources. These extra readings don’t need to be required, but can help interested students take their learning to the next level.
Require Students to Find Supplemental Readings
Make a regular assignment for your students to use Twitter to find articles related to classroom teachings and share them with your class. You could also ask students to follow eachother on Twitter and encourage them to interact with each other’s class related posts.
Do Some Research
Have students use Twitter’s advanced search feature to find articles and Tweets that are highly relevant to coursework. You can also use this feature to have students analyze how people from around the world are reacting differently to major current events.
Using Twitter to send out daily challenges; word puzzles, riddles, trivia questions, or math problems can be a fun way to award students with extra credit, and get them involved in the learning process on a daily basis. If you tweet your challenge with a specific hashtag then your students can search them and use them for practice throughout the year.
Roleplay as Historical Characters
A fun way to get students involved in a History or Social Science class is to put them in groups and assign them each different historical characters to emulate throughout the semester. As the semester goes on, have students react to current events as they believe that their historical character would, and at the end of the semester, have them give a report on their experience and what they learned.
Follow Historical Figures
A number of satirical accounts for historical figures already exist on the twittersphere. Having your students follow the ones that are most relevant to your course work can provide them with an interesting new learning experience that keeps them interested and engaged in the learning process.
Foreign Language Feeds
The best way to learn a new language is through immersion. Language teachers can help their students immerse themselves in the culture and language that they are studying by recommending foreign language accounts for them to follow.
Create a Character
Have students create a fully fictional character, and manage a Twitter feed for them throughout the semester. This will help students write and think creatively as well as teach them how to write in a voice different from their own.
Write a Progressive Poem
Throughout the semester have students work together on one large progressive poem. Assign a new student to write a lign for the poem each week, and group all of the lines together using the same hashtag. Read your poem together as a class at the end of the year.
Have your students learn how to write concisely and in a persuasive manner by assigning them to write reviews of products, movies, or even campus events. This type of exercise can be great practice for students learning how to write thesis statements.
Play the Stock Market Game
There is a free stock market game called twiDAQ that uses data from Twitter to allow students to participate in a free online stock market game. This can give students a real world stock market experience without them needing to pay or risk any money.