is a micro-blogging, social networking, real-time web 2.0 tool that allows users to send up to 140 character messages (tweets) to their followers. With an estimated 6 million monthly visitors, Twitter now ranks behind Myspace and Facebook as the third largest social network in the world (Comment.com).
Shockingly, roughtly half of the unique visitors to twitter per month are working adults that access the site form work, ranging in age from 35-49 (Neilson Wire). These tweeters, educators included, have discovered the incredible networking and resource sharing potential of twitter. Today, educators are raving over the power of twitter as a Professional Learning Network (PLN). But, how can we make twitter more accessible to children and harness its power as a learning tool?
Twitter as a Learning Tool
If you are unfamiliar with Twitter, view this short overview of the features of twitter including a synopsis of twitter language and diagrams of tweets and profiles. Below is a lengthly, but worthwhile screencast from The Bold Standard including another overview of twitter and ways to use Twitter as a learning tool.
1. Real-Time Communication and Engagement
If your children (and parents) sign up for twitter and follow you or any of their other teachers, you can communicate with them in real-time to maintain clear and consistent communication. You can tweet updates, class news, tools, tips, homework, resources, polls, pics, videos or any piece of information out to your students and parents. You can create lists of your kids and tweet directly to your list, tweet to individual children, or your entire following. And since twitter allows users to sync with mobile devices, you can communicate with kids anytime, anywhere in a very non-intrusive and safe way.
2. Collaborating, Networking, and Researching with #Hashtags
Twitter hashtags, a topic with the # symbol such as “#edtech”, are tools for spreading, organizing, and searching for information on Twitter. Collaborating among and between students and teachers or networking with students around the world is easy with hashtags. You can create classroom hashtags to use for discussing specific topics. Students can also search hashtags for research projects, analyze trends, and much more.
3. The Twitter Backchannel
This video illustrates the power of the twitter backchannel to create authentic, dynamic, and engaging lessons. During presentations, demonstrations, or lectures you can use hashtags to create a twitter backchannel. Your students can comment, react, question, or post anything live and it will appear on the presentation screen or smart board in real time. Other students can respond or react to those comments or to your presentation, while you can utilize it to guage and interact with your class.
4. Checks for Understanding
During lessons that are not lecture or presentation based, you can also utilize the twitter backchannel or twitter direct messages, private messages delivered straight to your inbox, as a tool to check for understanding or a short exit quiz.
Students can collaborate on paperless projects using apps like Tweetworks that allow users to create groups to facilitate better communication. Using twitter, you can get creative and engage students in projects like never before. Check out this remix of Romeo and Juliet acted out on twitter, Such Tweet Sorrow, to see the storytelling power of twitter. Check out Mr. Haines Blog featuring videos of twitter classroom projects, including Project Twanimal Farm and a third grade twitterview solar system project. Assign a twittory, a story composed by students 140 characters at a time. Create a twitter scavenger hunt. The possibilities are endless. Please share your ideas in the comments below!
Click here to sign up for a twitter mentor if you are a teacher just getting started with twitter. Interested in learning more, navigate to a further reading sites below.
Free Educational Resources by SmartTutor.com