Twitter is a social learning tool used to relate to others and develop bonds with one another, collaborate, and share information (Ricoy & Feliz, 2016). Twitter is also taking on new meanings and functions in learning environments, such as in higher education institutions, where the tool is used to enhance learning (Ricoy & Feliz, 2016).
The Twitter tool can be used in instruction by having students conduct research and literature reviews. This process can include sharing sources, discussing findings and citing references for other peers to view (Ricoy & Feliz, 2016). It can also be used as a significant social tool that enhances student learning, as participants can reinforce the points of others and share favorite ideas from other peers (Ricoy & Feliz, 2016). The Twitter tool can help achieve 21st century goals in that it is a mobile and accessible tool (Ricoy & Feliz, 2016) that helps students communicate with broad audiences across the globe. In addition, Twitter promotes social knowledge and the capacity to think critically (Ricoy & Feliz, 2016). Specifically, participants have access to multiple viewpoints from individuals who come from diverse backgrounds across the globe and they may also be part of different age groups, and these wide-ranging world views can inspire critical thinking in new ways for 21st century learners
One strategy for integrating the tool with optimal learning methods is to have all of the participants in the learning venue sign up for Twitter, if they have not already signed up in the past. Afterward, the facilitator can develop a sheet of tips and suggestions, as well as expectations and norms to follow while using Twitter. These recommendations should serve as guidelines for keeping aspects of communication contained to the learning topics. For example, some possible expectations are that everyone in the learning environment must participate, tweet, respond to tweets, and retweet regarding particular discussion topics, and these conversations must be related to pertinent hashtags. The facilitator should also be prepared to train participants and provide strong guidance in the early stages. Specifically, as argued by Kist, Tollafield, and Dagistan (2014). when setting up Twitter in learning environments “there must be a discussion of criteria that will be used” (p. 324) and “there needs to be some scaffolding for the new user” (p. 324).
In order to get started, once participants all have Twitter accounts, ask a significant question, such as one that is related to a current event. A current event that has some controversy and could inspire multiple perspectives may be a positive opportunity for students to share ideas, as well as compare and contrast points of view.
Note: I inserted a picture of my son, Jonah, sitting above "sky scrapers" at a museum in NYC, because it symbolizes the bird's eye view one can have of current events while using the Twitter tool. In addition, the picture shows a sense of hovering over one of the largest cities in the world. To me, this represents how connected Twitter allows us to be with the rest of the globe. Do you have an image or story that represents what Twitter looks like to you? Please share.
Additional sources for Twitter
Centre for Learning & Technologies. (2011). How to use twitter for social learning. Retrieved from http://c4lpt.co.uk/how-to-use-twitter-for-social-learning/
Edudemic: Connecting Education and Technology. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.edudemic.com/guides/guide-to-twitter/
Kist, W., Tollafield, K.A. & Dagistan, M. (2014). Leading Ourselves (Tweets Optional):
An analysis of selected twitter users. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy. 58
Ricoy. M. C., & Feliz, T. (2016). Twitter as a Learning Community in Higher Education. Educational Technology & Society, 19 (1), 237–248.