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written by Martha Beagle, Berea College, Berea, Kentucky

In 2008 Twitter became a social networking phenomena, and its popularity has grown tremendously. Twitter is a tool that lets you post brief updates about your everyday thoughts and activities to the Web via browser, cell phone, or Instant Messenger. The messages are limited to 140 characters, so they lean toward brief, concise statements. These statements can be broadcasted and received from a computer or cell phone to all who "subscribe" to your broadcast and are called "tweets." You, in turn, can receive messages from all those you subscribe to.

Also known as a microblogging tool, Twitter has educational potential and can be used in formal learning settings. It is hard to understand its potential when posting can only be 140 characters or less, but it can be a place to ask for teaching ideas, get lesson plan ideas, resource recommendations, and connect with other professionals. It makes sense for us to think about its uses in our classrooms with our mobile learners. Twitter can be incorporated into our classrooms as an educational and fun way of learning.

The focus of this article will present uses of Twitter and communication, Twitter and class projects and content, and Twitter tools.


Twitter offers innovative and interesting ways to expose unique approaches of communication in our classrooms.

  • Direct Tweet
    • A unique way of contacting a student, or a student contacting a teacher, without having to share a cell phone number. This can be set up on a cell phone as a mobile alert, or to an email account as an email alerts. These direct messages are only viewable by the person receiving the message.
  • Group Twitter
    • Developing a Twitter group allows teachers and students to get to know each other. There are some third party services, which will be provided in the third section of this article, that allow groups to be public or private as well as being able to post messages for the group.
  • Make Announcements
    • Because Twitter can be set up as phone or email alerts, reminders can be posted about homework assignments, project due dates, upcoming events, upcoming examinations, or any other class news and shared.
  • Brainstorming
    • Because of the 140 character limit, Twitter allows students and teachers to share ideas anytime and anywhere; for example, something that might have been presented or discussed in a classroom setting, outcome of a recent sporting event, etc.
  • Take a Poll
    • Opinions, or getting feedback on class topics or future topics, is a possibility using Twitter. An application called PollDaddy can help in designing a poll question and using Twitter.
  • Daily Learning
    • It makes sense to believe that learning will continue beyond the walls of the classroom, because tweeter feeds can happen more frequently throughout a day and not just during a class meeting time. Twitter allows for a daily opportunity for enhancing learning.

Twitter and Class Projects and Content

Twitter can enhance, support and generate creative opportunities for learning related to class projects and class content.

  • Twitter Specific Assignments
    • Develop an assignment that helps students learn how to use Twitter. An assignment designed over a span of two days using only Twitter helps your students and their use of Twitter in an educational context.
  • Spread the News
    • Have students send out tweets about scores of their favorite college and/or professional teams, sporting results, or class news by way of a Twitter feed.
  • Follow Mentors, Sporting Heroes/Heroines
    • Using personal names, key figures can be followed on Twitter. Students will be able to keep up with their activities.
  • Follow an Idea, Word, or Event
    • By sending "track_______" with a word, event, or idea, students will be able to follow their personal request. All tweets with the entered keyword will be organized and sent as alerts.
  • Follow News Stories
    • Sources, such as Twackle that provides the most recent sports stories on Twitter, or BreakingNews that provides the most recent global news, help to provide students with an opportunity to follow news headlines.
  • Twitter Search
    • Using the search tool on Twitter and entering a keyword immediately provides your students with all of the tweets related to that particular word. Lots can be discovered using this.

Twitter Tools

The following tools provide help in being able to use Twitter more efficiently in less time and getting the most from what Twitter has to offer.

  • Twhirl
    • This is a free desktop client software program that helps manage your Twitter, and provides features such as URL shortening, new message notifications, image posts, tweet searches, and more.
  • Quote URL
    • This tool summarizes a twitter project according twitter updates from different people onto one page.
  • TwitPic
    • This tool allows photos and videos to be posted in real time. Any visuals that may be used in a group project can be easily shared and quickly.
  • Tweetree
    • This tool allows you to see the posts people are replying to and puts an entire group conversation together.
  • TwitterFone
    • This tool allows you to leave a voice message that will be turned into a tweet.
  • Tweet Later
    • This tool provides the opportunity to schedule future tweet postings as well as other unique tools not listed above.


Twitter is a real-time information network that can connect your students to the latest information, and what they find as the most compelling posts and follow those conversations. The cumulative effect of using Twitter can be its true worthiness in our classrooms. Twitter can foster and spread powerful ideas among your students. Your challenge as the teacher is to very carefully consider the value of this social networking phenomena and how best to use it with your students.

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