What Good is Twitter??

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ED554 Technology and computers in the classroom

Do you think Twitter is a superficial app. only good for following the various goings on of celebrities who continually get pregnant/go into rehab/smash a car/assault someone in a drunken frenzy, etc., etc.??  So did I until I was forced to join the tweeting masses last week for a technology class I’m taking.  How could this possibly advance my teaching?  Well, it turns out there is more to Twitter than Stephen Colbert.

When you first join, search for people and organizations in your field of interest; in my case, education. When I initially did this, I began to receive a lot of tweets about higher education, which didn’t pertain to me. I narrowed my search to elementary education, arts integration, and elementary gifted education, my particular areas of interest. I chose several teachers to start following after previewing their tweets, most of which are re-tweets. What I didn’t realize about twitter was that most tweets contain a link to some other page or resource. This is really the meat of Twitter because it allows you to see an astounding number of resources in a short time, all in one place.

If you’re like me, you are interested in a number of organizations and teaching resources but don’t have a lot of time to log on to each one and keep up. I am finding that Twitter is the perfect way to do that. For example, I am very interested in the education department of several of the Smithsonian Museums, including the zoo. Last year, while I was planning a unit on migratory birds, I found that the National Zoo has loads of teaching resources on-line. They had activities related to beak adaptations, migration maps, interactive computer games, and more. I really wanted to remember to check the website for new science ideas every few weeks, but never found time. However, since I began to follow the National Zoo on Twitter, suddenly I don’t have to remember to go to their website; they frequently send me updates and interesting tidbits to share with my class. Voila!

AND, with Twitter I can easily follow a particular animal at a zoo anywhere in the world. Students love this and come up and ask me, “How is Bob?”, which is what they named the butterfly we were following on The Journey North this past spring. Twitter truly is a real time global network.

One last thought:

This morning when I checked my Twitter account, I was annoyed to find a strange a tweet from Laertes9, “Ophelia – my dove, where’s my dad? And why is he so cold?” I thought  my account had been infiltrated by a creep. I investigated “unfollowing” Laertes9 and soon realized that the tweets came from a teacher I am following.  There were other tweets from Claudius the Dove, Fortinbras, Polonious, and Gertrude because@danikabarker is teaching Hamlet and is having her students use Storify to create social media for all the characters!! I am so excited because I want to learn to use Storify, and this will be a free demonstration of its use in a classroom!

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5 thoughts on “What Good is Twitter??

  1. I completely agree that the tweet load is overwhelming. I’m quickly changing my following habits. I follow a friend on another site who is always writing hilarious blurbs about her day dealing with her job, her kids, and other mundane parts of our lives in which she manages to see the humor. To me, it’s all about relevance. I’m just not that interested in how Michael J. Douglass got throat cancer, okay?

  2. I am starting to think of Twitter almost like a musical instrument. Stay with me here! 🙂 I see it as an instrument in the sense that it can either be beautiful and meaningful, or it can be horrendously awful, depending upon how it is “played”. A music student who is just learning an instrument is bound to make some mistakes, and perhaps not immediately see the value of the instrument they’re playing. It can also be overwhelming when the student thinks about how much they have to learn in order to be a proficient player. That being said, it really falls on the student to decide how they will use the instrument, the same way that it falls on the Twitter user to decide how Twitter will be a part of their life. Sticking to a specific topic and creating a network of followers/followees (did I just invent a word? Is there a “Twitter-official” name for the people you follow?) seems to be the best course of action. As you point out, logging into Twitter and drunkenly rambling about how #shocked you are about #randomcelebrity crashing their #benz is probably not the best way to play the “instrument”. 🙂

  3. I am with Nicole…the continuous feed drove me nuts when I signed up for Twitter 3 years ago. I cancelled my account about a year after opening it. I might have also been following the wrong people/business, because I was not that interested what people were tweeting about.

    I also feel that all these social sites are too unprotected. I hate how just anyone can follow you. I remember constantly having to edit my “Followers” list because of all the random people that were able to start following me, without having to ask permission.

  4. Glad you’re getting to the meat of the Tweet, Mrs. Turner. It does seem to be all about following the right people to avoid getting irrelevant Tweets. It’s exciting to find a gem in the feed, and I love the brevity of it.

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