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4 Tips for Bringing Twitter into the Classroom

18 Feb 2015 by Scott Sterling

Everyone loves Twitter. Even students, who have a multitude of messaging and communication outlets at their disposal, choose Twitter. Believe it or not, 140 characters can actually be enough to have an impact in education as well. Here are some great ways to bring Twitter into the classroom.

  1. Backchannel chats

A backchannel is a conversation, via Twitter hashtag, going on during a shared experience such as a video or lecture. Students can add their thoughts to what’s going on without having to raise their hands or disrupt the room. For some added authenticity, project the chat using your SMART Board or LCD projector.

Backchanneling serves two great purposes: it gives you a record of participation and it gives shy students an outlet to join the conversation without having to join the conversation. Both are good reasons to try it.

  1. Keep the conversation going

What if the shared experience is happening outside of class, such as a major news event? Can the students still share their opinions? With Twitter, absolutely!

You can’t have everyone contribute in a mobile texting conversation, so Twitter is the next best thing for having a classroom conversation outside of class. Just establish the hashtag before the end of the school day and tell your students to contribute during the event.

  1. Reach out to subject matter experts

Chances are that if you reached out to a subject matter expert and invited him or her to come speak to your class, you would get a polite rejection. Nobel laureates are too busy to speak to every physics class. However, everyone is on Twitter.

Establish a classroom account and follow the people who make news in your particular discipline. Check in on what they post regularly. Then, send them a direct Tweet asking a question or two that your students came up with. You’ll be surprised at who will take the time to respond to a room full of schoolchildren.

  1. Connect with other classes

You won’t be the first classroom to engage with Twitter. Thousands of classrooms are already there. Why not engage with them over shared interests?

Say your students are growing plants as an elementary biology project. A quick search should find other people, including other classes, that might also be growing these plants. Then, the students can converse about what they notice about the project and compare notes. The best part is that the other class might be on the other side of town or the other side of the country.

Try TweetChat to simplify Twitter chat participation among your students. If you’re new to hosting tweet chats, check out this Twitter chat resource. Students will be more prepared to participate in a Twitter chat after reading how to participate in a tweet chat. Plus, tweet chat moderators, participants, and guests will benefit from these tweet chat success tips.


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