Tuesday, June 29, 2010

5 Real Examples of Using Twitter for Education

One of the best reasons to set up a Twitter account is because you have a real reason to share timely information with a real audience. For me, I have a Twitter account because I want to share with others when I have new blog posts and I want to read about when those I follow have new information to share. I also enjoy Twitter because my Twitter network always has lots of great ideas and advice to share and I also find that I have a lot of ideas and advice to contribute about educating innovatively with my Twitter network. Additionally, I find it to be a terrific tool for connecting with folks at conferences. Once the tag is set I can Tweet ideas with the tags and have others respond resulting in terrific conversations and deeper, more connected learning.

However many innovative educators want more than ideas. They want concrete people, ideas, examples, of those who are using Twitter and how it is being used in ways that appeal to them. So here are some ideas for those who need some Twitter mentors.

1) Tweet Shout Outs to Students and Teachers
At the Kurt Hahn Expeditionary Learning School Mr. Brown tweets frequently. During the school year his Tweets often consist of shout outs to his students and staff. He has his Tweets embedded directly on his web page which has the added benefit of making the home-school connection. Students and families are always in the know of what is being celebrated and focused on in the school.
Visit: Kurt Hahn Expeditionary Learning School

2) Tweet What is Happening in Your Library or in Your Classroom
Do what library media specialist Tracy Karas does. Create a page for your library, lab or classroom and Tweet your latest updates out to your students/visitors/school community. Tweet what's new, what's hot, what's not.
Visit: Marta Valle High School Library Media Center

3) Tweet at Conferences
Since I started Tweeting I have gained so much more from conferences! They have moved from a isolated (despite many people) experience, to an interactive, dynamic experience. Conference session become a conversation. Just find out the conference tag i.e. ISTE, BLC10, Educon, and send your tweet. See who else is responding to you or tag. In Twitter look at your @(and your name) tweets and look in search for the Twitter tag. You're on your way to processing knowledge and having a conversation!
Visit: ISTE Tweets or 140conf Tweets

4) Tweet During Lessons
I love incorporating Twitter into my lessons for teachers. To do this I share the Twitter tag with participants and ask them to Tweet before, during or after our time together depending on the task at hand. I provide the tag for Tweeting to give my students a place and way to share their thoughts and ideas. This serves as a great way I have specific times I check out the Tweets (i.e. work time) and when I bring participants back together we build on those Tweets.
Visit: This conference session on using cells or this session on using Twitter which I update depending on topic.

5) Give School Updates
Schools can set up a Twitter account and provide all the staff with the Twitter username/password. This makes every staff member on the beat reporters able to quickly share school news with the school community and the world. Teachers can Tweet themselves or assign a daily Tweeter in their class responsible for sharing the Tweet.
Visit: http://www.martavalle.org or http://cms.schooleffects.com/esheninger
Here's How to Get Started
  • Set up your account
    There are two steps to follow to get started.
    1. set up a twitter account
    2. enable texting updates from your phone
    • To use twitter from your phone go to www.twitter.com and set up an account.
    • You can Tweet from your phone by entering your number at http://twitter.com/devices and entering Twitter into your phone with this number: 40404. Don't worry that it is only 5 digits. Just send a text to it and it will show up in your Twitterfeed.
    • Users can contribute by simply sms texting anytime/anywhere from their phone.
  • Embed your Tweets
    Once you are ready to begin Tweeting you'll want to embed your Tweets into your wiki, website, or blog as you've seen in each of the previous examples. To do this you can search your site's widgets or gadgets, or embed the html code into your site if you want a specific look and feel. Here's how.
    1. Visit Twitter Widgets at http://twitter.com/widgets
    2. Select Widgets for "My Website"
    3. Select either "Profile Widget"
    4. Customize Your Profile Widget
      Next you'll click on each of the following to indicate how you want your widget to appear on your site.
      • Settings
      • Preferences
      • Appearance
      • Dimensions
    5. Now grab your code and embed it into your blog, website or wiki. Here's how to do this in three commonly used spaces.
      • Blogger
        • Select "design" -> "page elements" ->"add a gadget"
        • In the "basics" menu select "HTML/JavaScript"
        • Paste your code and save
        • Congratulations! Your code is embedded
      • Google Sites
        • Select "edit this page" -> "insert" -> "more gadgets" -> "featured gadgets" -> "embed gadgets"
        • Paste your code and save
        • Congratulations! Your code is embedded
      • Wikispaces
        • Select "edit this page" -> "widgets" -> "other html"
        • Paste your code and "save" your code
        • "Save" your page
        • Congratulations! Your code is embedded

Once you set up Twitter on your website, blog, or wiki you've begun the conversation and are able to start connecting to your audience in ways never before possible. So what are you waiting for? Start Tweeting because it's all about the conversation.
Read more:
Twit Lit 101: How Twitter Is Redefining Writing
50 Ways to Use Twitter in the Classroom
The 30 Newest Ways To Use Twitter In The Classroom

What Twitter has done for me


  1. Another interesting idea is to have your students tweet as a historical figure or persona. This can really bring history alive! A couple of examples include Charles Darwin (@cdarwin) and C.S. Lewis (@cslewisdaily).

    At this point, the usernames of many important historical figures have been taken, so creating a character to represent a time period is likely to be a little easier.

  2. Over here in Ireland, about 20 primary schools (elementary schools to you American folk) tried out Twitter to learn about two topics - one in Geography and the other in Visual Arts. I loved our Visual Arts one where we talked about the most expensive painting in the world. I wrote a blog post about the project on http://www.anseo.net/2010/06/twitter-and-visual-arts-in-primary-schools/ and will defnitely be doing this again in the next academic year.

  3. I've been using Twitter with my Spanish undergraduate students in Barcelona since last fall. Language Learning is a field where Twitter works quite well to practice the language informally daily. My students are excited to do the activity, they practice Spanish ubiquitously, and it's a social learning.
    If you are interested, you can find my experience here, it's in Spanish: