Twitter is traditionally used as a micro-blogging social media tool. You are limited to 140 character posts (tweets) that allow you to upload images, videos and links as well to help support or enhance your tweet. Over the last few years Twitter has been growing and changing. Twitter is used for far more than micro-blogging. It is now used for business marketing, connecting with others, keeping up with your favorite celebrities and sports teams, sharing your interests and connecting with those of like-mind, keeping up with politics and news, to have fun and play games, and it is now being used as an educational tool for teachers. Below are a few of the reasons why teachers are starting to use Twitter in the classroom.
- Communication and Engagement
Teachers are starting to create Twitter accounts to allow their students’ parents to follow them for communication purposes. Parents and teachers can communicate on a real-time basis without having to e-mail each other or set up parent-teacher conferences. Teachers can post tips, tools, reminders, extra credit, pools, or any other vital piece of information for the class to see. The ability for students to see this anytime from anywhere makes this a valuable asset. If a student has a question, they can easily contact their teacher through direct message. They can also communicate with classmates rather easily.
- Twitter Walls
Teachers can create Twitter Walls for their classrooms. A Twitter Wall is a live conversation of tweets. Teachers can actively engage with students in real time; therefore, a study session for a test can be set up for a specific time and all of the students can join. This is perfect for those students that are shy and are uncomfortable in class. It is also great for those that are too scared to ask questions in class. Interactive question and answer sessions are hard to beat and Twitter makes this possible.
- Extra Credit
Teachers can use Twitter as extra credit. They can set up periodic quizzes on some of the lessons they are teaching in class. If students take the quiz they can earn extra credit on an exam or something similar. This is a great way to keep students engaged and focused on their homework. It is also a good way to make sure students are looking at Twitter and engaging after class.
- Research and History
Twitter is full of history and education. Teachers can utilize this by encouraging students to find content that relates to the classroom on Twitter. If you are teaching an English class, it may be worth asking them to research their favorite poet or writer. See what they can find on Twitter and ask them to retweet it and then write their own poem or short story based on that inspiration. You can also share content with your class by tweeting interesting content and important facts about what you are teaching.
- Third-Party Apps
Last, there are a number of third-party applications that can be used to enhance the teaching environment on Twitter. You can have polls, surveys, group tweets, searches, scavenger hunts, etc. There are all kinds of things you can do to create a great educational environment for students. You just have to do a little looking. I might also suggest that you look for some twitter backgrounds that represent your classroom. You can change these on a per class basis or maybe a topic or chapter basis to represent what you may be studying at the time.
Have fun with Twitter, it has endless capabilities and can be a true benefit in the classroom if you let it.