Twitter: Technology Tool for the 21st-Century Teacher

Twitter is a social media micro-blogging tool that can be integrated in a transformative way with curricular objectives.

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by Daraius Bharucha

Overview

Twitter is an online social networking and micro-blogging tool. Twitter allows its users to send short (140 characters) messages or broadcasts called tweets, follow messages sent by other users, reply one-on-one to messages and create, explore and contribute to communities which are of interest to the user. Tweets can contain links to sites and resources and have images and short (30 seconds) videos attached to them.

Twitter is a tool that can be used on mobile learning platforms and is easily accessible. It can be used to create collaborative learning communities through which students can conduct an inquiry and share resources, knowledge and learning about curricular ideas being explored in the classroom.

Twitter allows educators to collaborate and share ideas, learning and teaching strategies, and examples of student work as well it can facilitate action research projects and professional development networks.

Getting Started

Twitter is user-friendly and quick. What can you do in 140 characters you ask? Change the world, start a social justice movement, transform education, connect to the world. You are only limited by the restraints you put on yourself. Check out this short video description to get you started on your tweeting journey.

Teaching Ideas

The teaching ideas listed below are for educators who want to use social media in a transformative way in their classrooms i.e. 21st-century teachers.

Idea 1 – Current Issues /Topic Discussion (Grade 9 – 12)

Use Twitter in social science, humanities and business courses to have students follow current issues in the news or topics of curricular focus. They can create a class Twitter account and topic hashtag through which they can discuss the issue, provide analysis, link to commentary on the issue.

Idea 2 – Creating a Resource Bank (Grade 9 -12)

Students engaged in an inquiry-based learning project in any of the Grade 9 to 12 subject disciplines can use the class Twitter account and hashtag to research and post a resource about a curricular topic under discussion. The tweet can take the form of a brief annotation with the link attached. The resource bank created then helps the student to extract information to respond to a critical response question which is the focus of the inquiry.

Idea 3 – In the Hot Seat Role Play (Grade 9 -12)

Using their class Twitter account students take on the role of a historical character or a personality relevant to their curricular topic. Other students then pose appropriate questions to the character who responds in-role with references to sources for their responses. This idea is particularly applicable for social science, humanities, and language courses but can be adapted and used in all disciplines.

Helpful Resources

Resource 1 – So you have a Twitter account. Now, what?

A useful blog post and podcast for educators hesitant to use Twitter as a meaningful instructional tool in their classroom. The post provides start-up instructions and some useful suggestions on deploying Twitter in the classroom.

Resource 2 – A New Educators Guide to Twitter: 2 videos to get you started

Two short but useful instructional videos for educators designed to get them familiar with Twitter, its features, and deployment in the classroom.

Resource 3 – 50 Ways to Use Twitter in the Classroom

These are a series of useful ideas and suggestions about using Twitter in the classroom. These ideas are quick hits that can be modified for use depending upon the subject area being taught in the classroom.

Cost and Alternatives

Twitter is available free of charge with full functionality. There are no subscription fees for additional features or upgraded versions of any sort.

Instagram is the closest social media technology tool that you can choose to explore. However, Instagram does not have the same versatility but maybe useful for some educational tasks.

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