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Communication:  Using Twitter for Class

What if you could keep a conversation going after class is over? What if you could help students learn to sharpen their writing to present clear, concise thoughts? What if you could invite an expert to be a part of your conversations whenever you want?

Twitter is a useful tool for education because it allows students to connect to teachers, peers, and even professionals on a social platform. It gives the user a chance to network, learn, and share with people all over the world. The 140 character per Tweet limit forces users to formulate bold statements and sharply focused questions. It can also serve as a running log of the conversations you have.

A Twitter account is free to users. You simply sign up at www.twitter.com. There are a few things you need to know to make the most of your Twitter experience. For some basic vocabulary and etiquette, here is an overview:

Twitter Basics (PDF)

You can connect with experts and organizations in the field of study to open your classroom on a global scale. Another advantage to using Twitter is that instructors can create a “widget” to place in the Blackboard course environment that will import Tweets. A widget is a small tool you can place within the Blackboard environment. Tweets still “live” in Twitter, but they are displayed in your environment.

There are different settings you can choose based on your needs. For example, you can set up your widget so that all Tweets that have a hashtag denoting the Tweet is related to class can be imported to Blackboard. This way, users can connect using the social network without being forced to completely surrender their personal social media account.

Another option is to create lists of Twitter accounts you would like to follow as a class. You might place your own account, students (with their permission), and/or experts in your field on this list so that you can pull Tweets from Twitter into your Blackboard course environment using a widget. Once the widget is created, it will not require any work to maintain. Creating the widget takes a few steps outlined in this handout:

Embedding a Twitter Feed in Blackboard (PDF)

Twitter can be a great resource to augment student engagement and promote curious and independent learning. For more information on how to get the most out of it, check out this best practices sheet:

Best Practices (PDF)