Education Goes “Tweet!”

twitter-bird-1Twitter is a social network/microblogging site that people use to share information. The principle of Twitter is that the user cannot post messages that are longer than 140 characters.

There is specific terminology related to Twitter. The most important elements to remember are:

> Tweet: A standard Twitter message that contains 140 characters or less;

> Retweet: A tweet that has been re-shared by a user;

> Hashtag: The symbol # is used to tag keywords in tweets, making it easier for further research purposes;

> Feed: All the tweets of the users you follow (accessible from you Twitter homepage);

> Direct message (DM): A private message that a user writes to another user.

Twitter is an easy-to-use website. If you would like to know more about Twitter terminology, you may consult this website.

Using Twitter is simple and convenient. The first step is to create an account by going on Twitter. Once your account is created, you can choose the users that you want to follow. You can also tweet. Simply click on the box in which it is written “Compose a Tweet…” and write what you want to share. Do not forget, the website will not allow you to exceed 140 characters. Also, be aware that EVERYTHING counts as a character, from letters to commas/apostrophes, even spaces. For example the following tweet: “Twitter is the best”, has 20 characters. Moreover, links can be shared but your final word count will be reduced. The beauty of Twitter is that everything is about being concise. In order to retweet something, you can leave your cursor on any given tweet and click on the retweet icon that will appear. This will automatically send the tweet to your feed with the mention that it has been retweeted.

The main benefit of Twitter is that it is fast and easy to use. Furthermore, it can be used across all kinds of platforms, from mobile devices to computers. It provides the user with live information. For example, the author of this post tells that when the bombing occurred at the Boston marathon in April 2013, what he/she was seeing on Twitter was coming quicker than what was broadcasted on T.V. The information was most likely shared from witnesses or from people listening to the radio broadcast. All of that to say that by using Twitter, you know information ahead of everyone who does not use Twitter.

What about the use of Twitter in the field of education? A teacher who wants to use Twitter with his/her students can tell them to create Twitter accounts related to school. Then, all students can follow each other as well as the teacher. Many things can be done from that point on. One thing that I find interesting is to give the students the challenge of creating a post that has exactly 140 characters. A good example is micropoetry. It aims at creating a poem that has exactly 140 characters (to know more about micropoetry, click here). It would teach students how to be concise in what they say in order for their message to get across well. Also, using Twitter is an easy way to remind them of tests or homework to be submitted. They can even write tweets for the others to remember school information. Another way to have your students use Twitter is to ask them to do a research on a current event. By doing that, they can use twitter as a searching tool. Remember to tell them that there are the official users and the unofficial users; and, that they should rely on the official ones to use Twitter as a search tool. Here are more ways to use Twitter in education.

You would like to use Twitter and want to have a demonstration, see this 4-minute tutorial.

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