Written by Rebecca Goodway, Swinburne University of Technology
Twitter 101 – What is Twitter?
Twitter is a social media platform and micro-blogging site which has 126 million daily users. Because Twitter is an open platform it provides unique opportunities for teaching and learning, such as engaging students online, building community and relationships in courses, curating digital resources, and supporting students to engage in public conversations.
In this coffee course, we’ll explore how and why Twitter can be used for teaching in higher education, explore how to design and use Twitter effectively, and how to handle some of the challenges that come along with teaching in the open.
As usual, we invite you to join us in the comments on the blog to share in the discussion, but we also encourage you to discuss with us on Twitter.
Creating a profile
If you’re keen to join us on this Twitter journey, then click here to create an account
To sign up you will need to give a name (which doesn’t need to be your real name, although if it is then people will be able to find you), as well as supply an email or phone number.
Once you have selected your ad preferences, your username will be selected for you based on the name you used to sign up. You can either stick with this name, or edit your username by following these instructions.
Twitter tip: don’t create a username that is associated with your employee or class/program. While you may be thinking of using Twitter as a teaching tool for a specific purpose, you don’t want to limit your use of it in future.
What is Twitter?
Twitter is a social media platform where you can curate a ‘feed’ of content based on people and hashtags youfollow. A Twitter feed is comprised of short posts called ‘tweets’ which are 280 characters long. Tweets can be broadcast out to other Twitter users who ‘follow’ you, sent in response to another tweet by way of the ‘reply’ function, or shared with a broader audience via the use of hashtags.
What is a hashtag?
A hashtag is a series of characters preceded by the pound sign, for example #ANUCoffeeCourses.
On Twitter, hashtags have multiple functions:
- Hashtags operate as a searchable link which you can click on to find other posts on that topic.
- As a visual cue to as to what the tweet might be about. E.g. the hashtag #DragRace indicates the tweet is relevant to fans of RuPaul’s Drag Race.
- You can use your own hashtags as a way for you to curate your own content, like a low tech version of Diigo.
You can add multiple hashtags to a Tweet, to further refine the audience who may be searching for your tweet.
The hashtag we are using for this coffee course is #TWTCoffeeCourse.
Anatomy of a Tweet
Click on the interactive buttons in this H5P activity to see the different components of a tweet.
- Find Katie (@katiedigc) and Rebecca (@rebeccagoodway) on Twitter and follow them! (This step is the most important, so make sure you don’t skip it)
- Write your first tweet – use the hashtag #TWTCoffeeCourse. Introduce yourself and let us know why you are joining us!
- Search for the hashtag #TWTCoffeeCourse and follow anybody you see tweeting using it. You now have your own starter community who can share this journey with you!
Why use Twitter for Teaching
The use of Twitter (amongst other social media platforms) represents a shift in pedagogy away from consumption of learning materials within the ‘walled garden’ of a learning management system, where all course interactions are only between the approved teaching staff and student in a closed environment. One of the main affordances of Twitter is that it is a move towards an open, digital pedagogy, where course conversations are held in the public and those from outside the course itself are able to see and participate in it. Unlike the LMS, where teacher and student roles are enforced and more hierarchical, open platforms can help students co-create their own learning spaces (Rosen & Smale, 2015). Put simply, Twitter can shift the focus from the directives of the teacher onto the student, by facilitating increased learner autonomy and agency. Part of the fun is Twitter is that its use can lead you and your students in unanticipated directions!
Share in the comments below or on Twitter, using the hashtag #TWTCoffeeCourse.
- What is your experience in using Twitter? Are you a Twitter novice? Or a long-time Tweeter? Share your Twitter handle if you have one! Either way, we want to hear more about your experience!
- What brings you to this coffee course? What interests you about using Twitter for teaching?
Join us for a live chat on Twitter on Friday, 11 Oct at 11am AEST, where Rebecca and Katie will be answering your questions and hosting a live discussion on Twitter, using the hashtag #TWTCoffeeCourse.
Axel Bruns (2016) Prosumption, Produsage. In Bruhn Jensen, Klaus, Craig, Robert T., Pooley, Jefferson D., & Rothenbuhler, Eric W. (Eds.) The International Encyclopedia of Communication Theory and Philosophy. John Wiley & Sons Inc, London, UK.
Cadey Korson (2015) Political Agency and Citizen Journalism: Twitter as a Tool of Evaluation, The Professional Geographer, 67:3, 364-373, DOI: 10.1080/00330124.2014.970839
Adelle King (2019) Digital natives are a myth, RMIT feature article, located at: https://www.rmit.edu.au/industry/develop-your-workforce/tailored-workforce-solutions/c4de/articles/digital-natives-are-a-myth
Jody R. Rosen and Maura A. Smale (2015) Open digital pedagogy = Critical pedagogy, Hybrid Pedagogy, Published 7 January 2015, located at: https://hybridpedagogy.org/open-digital-pedagogy-critical-pedagogy/