Twitter in Education

If you’ve spent much time in the blogosphere in the last six months you have likely heard about Twitter. I have mentally been writing this post for about ten days. I want to provide my critical review and share the pros and cons as I see them. I realized that many people have already covered the bulk of this information and I just found it unnecessary for me to fully cover this topic with my own original post. Therefore, here are a few BIG points that I briefly want to make followed by valuable resources to further pursue this topic.

  1. There is value in the networking and real-time interaction that you can get using Twitter. Many educators and academics find this to be an effective strategy for dealing with the isolation that can come from working in the classroom or office. Imagine encountering technical difficulties during your lesson and having a means of receiving assistance within minutes. Consider the ability to receive assistance from others during a teachable moment in which you don’t know the answer to a student’s inquiry. Individuals like @nlowell, @sbrandt, and @room214 have provided me with much needed real-time assistance.
  2. I admit that it is possible for Twitter to be used in non-productive ways. I do not care about the weather, meal plans, funny cat stories, or work schedule of individuals that I do not know (in real life or virtually), but I solve this issue by simply dropping them from my follow list. On the flip side, I don’t mind if individuals that I know/ respect do this. Hearing @mguhlin share about events at work or @berniedodge describe the weather in San Diego helps me know them a bit more and adds an additional layer of community within my online network.
  3. The message to take away is that your experience with Twitter will be what you make it. You should customize and use it on an ongoing basis to meet your specific needs and interests.
  4. Join my Twitter network by using the link in the Navigation menu to the right.

Resources

Here is a great introduction to Twittering.

This video provides a full overview for setting up and using Twitter.

Using Twitter with Learners

Twitted, Tweets and Young Learners

Twits Are (Not?) for Kids

Twitter – Meaningful or Trivial – Up to the Writer

Tips for Using Twitter in the Classroom

Plan, Tweet, Teach, Tweet, Learn, Smile

Twitter for Academics

Will Twittering Catch on with Teachers?

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Clif Mims

Clif Mims is a Christian, husband, father, teacher, cancer warrior, and fan of the Mississippi State Bulldogs and Memphis Grizzlies.

24 thoughts on “Twitter in Education”

  1. Ya..I know that professor too! I have been using twitter for along time and there are defiantly applications for twitter in the education field. It is actually applicable to many fields if you think about it.

  2. In the last 24 hours I have become totally sold on Twitter. I signed up a while back but never really got into using Twitter. The only person who followed me was my friend Mary who sits less than four feet away from me all day at work. Needless to say, all we had to do was look over at one another to see what was going on : ) Then I came across and article that talked about using Twitter in the classroom. The name newmediajim was mentioned as being someone really neat to follow. Turns out he works for NBC news and covers the president, the White House, etc. His posts to Twitter were really neat to follow. So, I added him and began following his adventures. OK…so here’s where the cool part comes in. He sent me a direct message after seeing what I had written about trying out Twitter again but not knowing if I would be successful at keeping up and posting updates. He encourgaged me to post updates, and we started a conversation from there. I’m actually communicating directly with someone who is part of the White House press detail for NBC. He also just sent out a Twitter link the other day for a live web interview that he was doing with Sir Bob Geldof. One of his friends received the link via Twitter and began to watch the video. While watching this live interview, he sent a question via Twitter for Jim to ask while conducting the interview. Sir Bob Geldof was more than happy to respond to the question and addressed the person by name who sent it via Twitter. Now that is Web 2.0 technology at its finest!

  3. Thanks, Clif. I hope they will share their examples. I’d feel more comfortable pursuing this.

  4. There are several specific examples in some of the links in the Resources section of this post. I’ve not personally used Twitter in my classes, yet, but I am looking forward to the first opportunity to do so. I’ll ask several of my friends that have used it in their instruction to share their examples.

  5. I’m also disinclined to try this. Several of you make convincing arguments so I am willing to consider this. It would be good to hear some specific examples of how some of you have used this in your work. I think you have talked me into trying twitter but I can not imagine practical ways that i can use this in my middle school classroom – I am just not that creative. I think concrete examples would help me out.

  6. Great post, Clif.

    @RugbyTeacher, this is about building networks of learners that you can tap into, as well as contribute, too. Instead of books, articles, and libraries, you are going straight to the source–people who know or can point you in the right direction.

    When you realize that when you share what little you know–as compared to the crowd of folks online, connected to you via Twitter from AROUND THE WORLD–it is of benefit to someone in the crowd, and vice versa, you seize Twitter’s power. The question for as educators isn’t how do we use this to deliver instruction but rather how we enable just in time learning for ourselves and our students. How do we become more “metacognitive” about what we’re learning so that we can share it with our network.

    Best wishes,
    Miguel

  7. My response is similar to RugbyTeacher’s, but you provided a convincing counter argument, Cliff. I’ll give Twitter a try.

  8. arg1953 and RugbyTeacher,
    Thanks for the compliments. I often feel like I’m doing this in vain, so I appreciate the compliments more than you know.

    RubgyTeacher,
    I appreciate and welcome your honesty. I started using Twitter about 5 months ago. I was skeptical, but I’m preparing to teach a Web 2.0 course this summer so I’m trying lots of new tools and getting out of my comfort zone, so I gave it a try. I didn’t take to it until about a month ago. At first I just checked it a few times a week and pretty much lurked in the shadows. But, then…

    –Then I began to see people (teachers and instructors) Twittering from their classes and inviting us into their classrooms. I began to see some of their students beginning to follow people in our mutual networks. Imagine teachers and students choosing to follow and interact with some of the experts in their fields of interest. I see huge potential in this.

    –Then I began tweeting for help when I couldn’t find good resources while developing lessons, needed technical assistance or advice, etc. The help came within minutes. The real time assistance is priceless. Educators often work in isolation (1 ed tech person for a school or district, 1 algebra teacher, self-contained elementary classrooms, the principal in his or her office, etc.) and I’ve found Twitter keeps me in touch with many other people around the world (literally!) that share common interests, job responsibilities, etc. I’ve met very few people that I follow in real life, but I’ve been surprised by how much many of them have positively influenced what I do by the sharing of ideas and resources.

    Trust me, I’m surprised that I just said all of that. I never expected Twitter to work for me. My advice, give it a real try. If it works, you can thank me. If it doesn’t, then I’ll thank you for being open-minded. Either way, I’d like to hear your feedback.

  9. I trust you Clif. You are always spot on with your advice and resources (like others have mentioned). BUT, I don’t get this. I have not tried twitter but I have read and watched video about it. I just don’t see how it can do anything in education. I’m not saying the rest of you are wrong, just asking for help in understanding this idea. It’s not clear to me, but I can be kind of a meat head sometimes.

  10. I agree with you Lorna. Clif’s post is “complete and easy to understand” but he always is. You’re a super resource for teachers, Clif. Keep up the good work becuase many of us rely on your ideas and resources.

  11. I am in the process of trying to explain how twitter can be used for professional development and specifically providing support for teachers and parent interactions. I was in the middle of writing my own blog post when I saw a twit about your blog by @cgseibel and hoped over here. I was so impressed with your complete and easy to understand explanation of the value of twitter. Thanks for sharing your insights. I will be sharing your post with folks in by blog.

  12. Since getting on twitter (almost 2 months now), I have met so many like minded people and connected with so many valuable resources that I don’t know how I made it without this. I am finding out how little I really knew about about how much more there is in order to really make learning meaningful for our students. I would recommend that all teachers join twitter.

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