Twitter in Academics: This Prof Shows How to Do It

I am floored and amazed by this amazing article about Twitter in Academics. (which I picked up from Twitter, of course.)

The uses outlined by this visionary prof include (I include summaries and quotes from the prof):

  • Class Chatter: Connecting the class with one another and the real world.
  • Classroom Community: Adding the sixth sense to the classroom.

    ” This carried with it a range of benefits, from more productive classroom conversations (people were more willing to talk, and more respectful of others), and also helped me to understand what type of students they were…I can definitely say that changed the classroom dynamics for the better. I think this is connected to what Clive Thompson calls the sixth sense of Twitter. Having the Sixth Sense can really help the classroom.”

  • Get a Sense of the World: By looking at the public timeline, students taking a look at the “noise” in the world.” (I wouldn't do this with middle school and below and perhaps high school.)
  • Track a Word: This is the most useful thing I learned in the article, I'm now tracking “teacher” “NECC” and “edublog.”

    “Through Twitter you can “track” a word. This will subscribe you to any post which contains said word. So, for example a student could be interested in how a particular word is used. They can track the word, and see the varied phrases in which people use it…. (To do this send the message “track Starbucks” to Twitter, rather than posting the update “track Starbucks” you will now receive all messages with the word “Starbucks.”)”

  • Track a Conference: The prof tracked “MLA” and found those going to the conference (and some griping students too!)
  • Instant Feedback: The prof tweeted to ask questions while prepping for a lecture. Students also tweeted when having problems understanding something to connect with other students.
  • Follow a Professional: Linking with professionals can give amazing insight.

    Journalism students follow “NewMediaJim who works for NBC and Tweets about being on Airforce One, covering the Middle East etc. This is a rare inside, “real-time” view into journalism. He is followed by over 2,500 people at this point. Howard Rheingold also uses Twitter in his social journalism class.”

  • Follow a Famous Person: Follow politicians and others.

  • Grammar: I find this quite interesting, what an amazing discussion about grammar and the importance of a comma!

    “This helps to demonstrate, both how all communication needs rules/structure and how important something like a comma or a period can be. (Some Tweets become really ambiguous because of their lack of punctuation.)”

  • Rule Based Writing:

    “Related to the above is the idea that when you change the rules (context) around any written communication you necessarily change the content of such an utterance.”

  • Maximizing the Teachable Moment: Twitter lets you teach in context and harnesses the power of the student as teacher.
  • Public NotePad: Sharing inspiration is powerful in this tool.
  • Writing Assignments: This is a great idea for writing class.

    “Remember that game you used to play where one person would start a story, the next person would continue it, etc. . .Okay try this on Twitter.”

Again, I highly recommend you read this whole article for not only is a good lesson about twitter, but also about the importance of reflective teaching and innovation. For future success, every person must pull R&D down to the “desk” level… in their own job. Innovation and experimentation must become a way of life.

How to manage multiple twitter accounts
It is tough, again, I find myself wishing to be able to segment this valuable service and what I believe I will do is to create another account on twitter just for my classes. I will then use twhirl to put them together. (snitter has become a crash demon on my computer.)

It is about Microblogging

It is important to look at twitter for what it is: microblogging.

In 140 characters, you must summarize.

Isn't that what we teach with a topic sentence? I'm looking for an upcoming project hooking up all of my student accounts and I'll have them twitter at the end of class a summary of their work for the day. (probably using their cell phones)

I'm sure some other microblogging services will come around but remember, when talking about twitter, you're discussing the principle of microblogging, don't get too caught up in the website when the website may evaporate tomorrow.

Track things in twitter
I want to pull this point out again! How to track things in twitter!

I typed in:

“track teacher”

and pressed enter. This doesn't go to my timeline. Instead, any time anyone posts a twitter with the word teacher, it sends it to me. I'm also tracking the word “edublog” and the word “NECC.” This is a fascinating service and has a lot of potential!

Look at and test microblogging, it has its uses in that it is a fast, efficient way to hook up a lot of people!

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Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis is a full-time classroom teacher and IT Director in Georgia, USA. She is Mom of three, wife of one, and loves talking about the wise, transformational use of technology for teaching and doing good in the world. She hosts the 10 Minute Teacher Podcast which interviews teachers around the world about remarkable classroom practices to inspire and help teachers. Vicki focuses on what unites us -- a quest for truly remarkable life-changing teaching and learning. The goal of her work is to provide actionable, encouraging, relevant ideas for teachers that are grounded in the truth and shared with love. Vicki has been teaching since 2002 and blogging since 2005. Vicki has spoken around the world to inspire and help teachers reach their students. She is passionate about helping every child find purpose, passion, and meaning in life with a lifelong commitment to the joy and responsibility of learning. If you talk to Vicki for very long, she will encourage you to "Relate to Educate" or "innovate like a turtle" or to be "a remarkable teacher." She loves to talk to teachers who love their students and are trying to do their best. Twitter is her favorite place to share and she loves to make homemade sourdough bread and cinnamon rolls and enjoys running half marathons with her sisters. You can usually find her laughing with her students or digging into a book.

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Frank February 8, 2008 - 3:08 pm

Hi Vicki .. yes this twitterlicious link was passed around twitterlandia like wildfire a few days ago, when I also chimed in with Sage Lewis’ video on 17 ways to use twitter in the classroom (see my blog). Actually, there is a very nice composite of this and other tweets on twitterings in the arena at the EduBlogsMagazine at

Thanks for your super tweets and blog.

Enjoy, Frank

Jeff Lewis February 8, 2008 - 3:58 pm

My fourth grade class has recently begun to tweet as a class community. I call it the “voice” of our room during the day. (We are “Room 24” Follow us here They tweet on each subject throughout the day and do it with a partner.

My rationale has been twofold: One is that it helps my kids microedit throughout the subjects. 140 characters is very do-able for my fourth graders and much different than the 5 paragraph essays they write every week. I insist on perfect caps, grammar usage, punctuation and spelling. The other rationale is that it gives them a chance to reflect on their learning throughout the day, week, month. We talk at the beginning of each day about our objectives for the day. With Twitter, we are able to discuss whether we achieved our objectives and talk about what was learned, not just taught.

Next step for us is to begin to build a classroom network so that students can follow safely and see what others are doing around the globe. This is an ever-evolving process. Thanks for the article, its going to give me some great ideas.

Sue Waters February 9, 2008 - 1:51 am

Personally I still believe subscribing to the RSS feed for terms using Tweetscan is better than using the tracking feature in Twitter.

Vicki A. Davis February 9, 2008 - 1:09 pm

@Frank – I’ve been having trouble w/ snitter so I switched to twhirl – now I’m having problems there as well, so I missed the twitterfire, I guess.

I’ll take a look at the edublog magazine links. Thank you!

@jeff – I sent the bookmark through my delicious feed and plan to talk about YOU at a conference on Tuesday! I am very impressed!

@sue — OK, I’m late coming to the ballgame. I’ll have to explore tweetscan — do you have a post about it. I want to know more. I’m still a newbie I guess when dealing w/ Twitter. I feel a bit behind all of you!

Sue Waters February 9, 2008 - 11:08 pm

I think the issue with Twirl is similar for the problems with Snitter. Snitter has been a bit buggy recently and probably links back to issues with Twitter.

Yep, you are right I do have a post about Tweetscan. Here is my post on Tagging, Tracking and Using RSS with Twitter!. I wish I had known about Tweetscan when I was starting out. Alan Levine uses it really well; limits the number of people he follows then subscribe to tweetscan for cogdog. If any follower sends him a tweet he can then choose to reply back without having the noise from following a large number of people. And for extra reading here is my post for getting more out of Twitter.

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