Twitter has changed drastically from what it originally was. It can be used for good such as with the Arab spring but also for bad such as harassment. I think this dichotomy parallels my views on the use of Twitter in the classroom. It can be used in great ways for education, but it can also be used improperly. Using Twitter to connect students with experts in the field, chat with other classes and even a research project through the use of Twitter polls are great ways of using it for education purposes. The big connecting thread for all of these is that there needs to be an element of organic use. Students should not be forced to tweet a certain number of times a day or forced to engage in topics that do not interest them. Just as with most educational practices it will require a nudge and sometimes a push from the teacher but it shouldn’t be forced down the students throats.Photo Credit: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Develop Flickr via Compfight cc
Twitter also can be hard to engage with people on topics for several reasons. The first can be that in a public forum anyone else is able to chime in and their responses are not always the most constructive. This can make it a tough tool for use in the classroom. This also can make it tough to follow a conversation since tweets can come flying by. I found this during the Saskedchat where every time I started to read a tweet 4 more would come in and bury it. This is not a fault of the people but the platform. One solution would be a slow mode for hashtags. This has already been used in live chats for live streams on platforms such as YouTube and Twitch. Another option is the use of Slack. Lots of what you do in the classroom may not need to be as public as Twitter and Slack channels could be useful for students discussing topics and allow side conversations to occur in other Slack channels.
The big takeaway from all this is that Twitter is one of many tools that can be used in the classroom. You should use it when it makes sense and works but not try and mold a lesson plan around it. Additionally with everything some students may not be comfortable using Twitter for school work so alternatives such as Slack or Microsoft Teams are useful to have in mind as well.