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Web 2.0

15 Twitter Tips

Twitter tends to be the most confusing of the “marquee” web 2.0 offerings, according to the University of Texas-Dallas’s Parry (@academicdave). “If you log into Facebook and see somebody else you know on there, you start connecting. Google is really simple. Wikis are not hard to figure out. But Twitter has so many different purposes,” he notes. “You have to have a clear idea when you go in about what you want to get out of it.” He offers the following 15 tweets for working with and using Twitter in the classroom. (Tweets, for the uninitiated, are the 140-character-or-less messages you post using Twitter.)

TwitterTip Choose a short Twitter handle (name) to allow others more characters when they @reply (Twitterese for replying or referring to someone).

TwitterTip Keep 2 accounts: 1 to follow your students’ tweets and 1 to follow others and do your own tweeting.

TwitterTip Follow the right kind of people. Use Twitter to extend your network outside of the ppl you see every day in your office (try @Campus_Tech).

TwitterTip Follow the people being followed by those you follow to grow your list.

TwitterTip Don’t be wowed by follower numbers alone. Says @academicdave: “Some of the most important ppl I follow have fewer than 50 or 100 followers.”

TwitterTip Seek out people who aren’t reflected in your current tweet stream—in Asia or Africa, for example.

TwitterTip Use a Twitter client like TweetDeck or Tweetie for Mac, and get one for your mobile device too, to more easily manage Twitter.

TwitterTip Use in large lectures to facilitate dialogue about the day’s class topic (see: The Twitter Experiment at UT-Dallas,

TwitterTip Extend classroom conversation by having students tweet about things they’re seeing related to the class, such as videos or blog postings.

TwitterTip Have students follow people who work in careers related to the subjects you teach.

TwitterTip Teach literature? Have students tweet for a day as if they are characters in the book you’re studying in class.

TwitterTip Or have them adapt and tweet a book, like the June 16 Bloomsday “Ulysses” project by @ibogost (

TwitterTip Teach a language? Have students follow people tweeting in that language to learn conversational nuances (e.g., see:

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.

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