Twitter can be used for stand alone activities or it can easily be combined with other classroom or homework tasks. It is a way to keep students in contact, to emphasize fluency in communication and to focus on conciseness and accuracy.
- Following Conversations: students can follow public conversations regardless of whether they even have their own twitter account. This is because Tweets (each comment in Twitter) are usually publically viewable (just as blogs are).
- Following Others: students can ‘follow’ (ie subscribe) to the twitter accounts of mainstream media (eg the UK’s Channel 4 News:http://twitter.com/jonsnowblog) to receive regular updates on topics of interest.
- Tweeting in a Community: students can share ideas (via twitter) with others in their class on an ongoing basis – the class could have a common tag or simply all become friends (ie follow each other). This activity can be added to other activities for example as part of an assignment, the student could twitter their thoughts on an article they have read (or indeed, a tweet), or a video they have watched.
- Twitterature: summarizing articles or even whole works of literature into tweets (known as Twitterature), helps the learners focus on what the original text is fundamentally about (in their opinion). Learners can also collaboratively write a piece – perhaps with each tweet as a chapter. In fact, this is similar to the mobile phone novels (keitai shousetsu) being written in Japan.
- Correcting Tweets: as with any other writing, students will appreciate their tweets being corrected. This can be done collaboratively or individually, as with any other written work.
- Twitter conversations in class: some professors use twitter to enable a parallel conversation in class. So students can twitter questions and answer other questions alongside the actual class. It can get a bit busy, but does integrate note-passing into the lesson. One way to do this is to have a class account and participants can send messages to the account (ie start each tweet with @ourclass, where “ourclass” is the account name for the group).
Pedagogies for Twitter
- Dogme: Twitter is all about conversation and so fits in well with the Dogme philosophy. Twitter could be used as the actual medium for the conversation. It could also be used to stimulate conversations within the class or via another (perhaps electronic) form of communication.
- Task-based Learning: as a unique, yet practical form of communication, twitter is well suited to task-based language learning. Activities can focus on the conciseness and the speed of response.