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Friday, February 08, 2008

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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