Teaching and learning with Twitter opens up tremendous opportunities for expanding student engagement and developing personal learning networks (PLNs). Twitter has some distinctive features that impose some intriguing constraints on one hand, while exploding access on the other. The most important step to successfully integrating Twitter (or any other teaching tool, really) is thinking through why you are using Twitter and making that clear to your students. The “why” can then inform the “how”, or the mechanics of your activities.

In the short workshop, we will briefly cover up to four examples of Twitter-based activities for your courses. However, you can explore other examples on the references page of this site, or query your ever-expanding PLN!

Example one: ongoing discussions through the course (asynchronous)

This example comes from sociologist Stephen Barnard of St. Lawrence University. In his syllabus, Stephen outlines the parameters of using Twitter in his courses. This includes delimiting the mechanics of how students are to approach the platform for the course as well as precisely how they will be assessed.

Example two: Focused, synchronous “tweetchats” (synchronous)

This example comes from Tessa McKenzie and Dr. Valerie Holton of Virginia Commonwealth University, and a course she helped facilitate in the summer of 2015, Collaborative Curiosity: Designing Community Engaged Research. A distinctive part of this course was practicing active community engagement, including through social networks facilitated through Twitter. We’ll review how the two instructors set up a Twitter-based learning activity.

Example three: The Twitter Essay (asynchronous)

This one is an activity from Dr. Jesse Stommel who has just taken the helm at the University of Mary Washington’s Division of Teaching and Learning Technologies and who is also a co-founder of the Hybrid Pedagogy Journal. In this activity, Jesse approaches Twitter as a writing platform that imposes particular constraints around writing and uses those constraints to get students thinking about communication more broadly.

Example four: Twitter Journal Club (synchronous)

This activity comes from Laura Gogia of VCU’s ALTlab, and an “open learning experience” she designed around reading she was doing in her doctoral research. She was looking for a way to augment her readings beyond the expert approaches of her faculty, and gain/share insights with a larger and more diverse group. We’ll discuss how this kind of activity could augment assigned readings in your own courses.