Student views on Twitter (September 2013)
Student views on Twitter (September 2013)

I’ve used Twitter for over four years and have integrated Twitter into my teaching for the past three. The practice evolves with time, and with the preferences of different groups of students, but it’s been a fascinating learning experience. A few examples:

We use Twitter in a 2nd year BSc Computer Science and IT course, Professional Skills, which focuses on research and communication skills, digital literacies, and social media. We use #ct231 as a course hashtag for our Twitter conversations. I also tweet from a course Twitter account @CT231 — this allows people to easily find our course on Twitter (and thus our course website) and allows students to Direct Message (DM) me, which has proven to be a popular alternative to emailing for many students.

Yesterday, Thom Cochrane posted this dynamic image, made with TAGSExplorer (thanks @mhawksey!), showing the activity on the course hashtag #ct231 for the past week (click the image for a dynamic version).

click image for dynamic version
click image for dynamic version

It’s still early in the term, but this is a fascinating glimpse into our interactions on Twitter. In addition to the expected heavy activity from @CT231 and @catherinecronin, many students appear in the network, mostly as a result of our Twitter conversation in class yesterday. Well done to all!  @sharonlflynn (from CELT at NUI Galway) and @fboss (Education Officer and moderator of #edchatie) were active participants in our conversations, as well as several other educators in Ireland and beyond.

Also appearing in the #ct231 Twitter discussions this week are the participants in #icollab, an active network of students and educators who communicate and learn together across institutions and timezones (Ireland, UK, Spain, France, Germany, New Zealand, Australia). CT231 is happy to be a part of this great network. Thanks to #icollab participants: @ThomCochrane, @heloukee, @mediendidaktik, @marett, @averillg and our newest and welcome additions, @topgold and @spacelyparts.

Finally, thanks to Nathan Jurgenson (@nathanjurgenson) and Alice Marwick (@alicetiara) who popped into our Twitterstream yesterday after learning (via a tweet) that we were studying and discussing their work in class yesterday morning; we aim to engage with you further during the term. Using Twitter, some students shared their summaries of key points from the articles, others posted their own thoughts. In any case, live interactions with authors whose work we are studying is one of the superpowers of Twitter, so we thank Nathan and Alice for joining in.


There’s much more to say and to study about teaching and learning with social media tools like Twitter. This quick snapshot of one week is one small contribution. Many thanks to Thom Cochrane for running and sharing the TAGSExplorer analysis.

Interestingly, just after leaving our class yesterday, I saw the following tweet from Sharon Flynn, sharing an interesting study by Chris Evans.


My answer to the question is yes.



Texts studied in CT231 class and discussed via Twitter (1st October 2013):

The IRL fetish by Nathan Jurgenson (2012)

The public domain: Surveillance in everyday life by Alice Marwick (2012)

Teens, social media and privacy – Pew Internet & American Life Project (2013)

George Saunders’s advice to graduates New York Times article by Joel Lovell (2013)

16 thoughts on “Teaching with Twitter (this week)”

  1. Hi Catherine,

    interesting to hear your experience and perspective on twitter deployment in class (and thanks for the articles and resources too).

    I’m putting together a resource for teaching with twitter – a short online handbook of different techniques, tools, tasks and projects educators can use with twitter in their classes – so your post and experiences are hitting home with me here.

    As part of the project, I was hoping to interview an educator who has experience of implementing twitter in their teaching practice, and post it online. The first twitter teaching tip is finding an expert, so, it seemed like good way to demonstrate that.

    I wonder of you might be interested.

    1. Thanks Keith – your project sounds interesting. Is this part of the research you mentioned before? In any case, I’d be happy to speak with you about the project, and to contribute in any way I can. It might also be useful to get feedback from students. If you would like to speak with my students we could arrange this via a Twitter chat, Google+ hangout or otherwise. Let’s talk, anyway.

      1. Thanks Catherine. It is a sideshow to my Research Project.

        The opportunity to talk to both you and your students is fantastic. If it’s ok, I’ll dm you my email, and we can talk.

  2. You have inspired me and tempted me to do the same. I will let you know if I do and how successful it is: I teach tort law to undergraduates and I’m not so sure if this will work well. Thank you for sharing this.

    1. Best of luck, Andreas. If you are not already, I recommend that you follow Eoin O’Dell (@cearta) on Twitter. Eoin is an associate professor at the School of Law at Trinity College Dublin and tweets about law, education and related topics. The School of Law at University College Dublin also uses Twitter (@UCDLawSchool). Two more contacts to add to your network! Best of luck with your teaching — and teaching with Twitter.

  3. Hi Catherine
    I have just started teaching this week and am using Twitter as a back channel for the module. Reactions are mixed (it is not a compulsory activity) but what is interesting to me is how many of my students are now using Twitter compared to even 2 years ago. We will be exploring the whole idea of digital identity and web presence over the next few weeks (in the context of being aspiring health and social care professionals) so even having a bit of insight into their Twitter streams will be useful for me. In return I am feeding them lots of RTs and links relevant to their studies to show how rich a medium it can be for social sciences research.

    1. Hi Jane – so happy that our paths continue to cross. I have found the same — many more students are using Twitter now than 2 years ago (in line with Pew & other recent studies that show Twitter uptake among all users, esp. younger users, is growing). We’ve had a few interesting discussions about digital identity and privacy — I invite students to think about whether they want to use their existing Twitter account or a create a new one for our course. It’s an interesting decision for most.

      You can see our growing list of Readings & Resources on our course website — what is your course hashtag/website?

      We could keep open the idea of linking our groups at some stage, perhaps a joint Twitter chat with others. When does your group meet?

  4. Great work!

    I’ve given a couple presentations on using Twitter to build a classroom. In my own teaching, this is my second year using Twitter to build my senior classes–Grade 11 & 12. We use Hawksey’s interactive like you have here, but also to archive all our tweets so we can go back and mine them later. We also use Storify to capture a individual conversations that happen in one or two classes:

    I think Twitter is exceptionally powerful and still undervalued.

    1. Many thanks, Brad 🙂 I retweeted one of your #tokbac tweets earlier — were those Grade 11/12 students? Very impressive!

      We’ve used Storify in past years (not this year, yet) and Martin’s interactive explorer is a terrific tool. I’d like to do more with it. Do you find students driving some of the exploration/creation/curation, e.g. with TAGSExplorer, Storify, etc.? Also, are you finding what Jane (above) and I have found, that more students already have a Twitter presence before we invite them to use it for learning and for building PLNs?

      It’s such an exciting time to be learning and exploring these tools alongside our students. I’m just putting finishing touches to a paper for #nlc2014 about learning in open online spaces. It’s the future, for sure 🙂

  5. Hi Catherine

    Greetings from Auckland, where I am attending #MINA2013. You seem to have found a way to use Twitter effectively and efficiently in your teaching. Thanks for providing a look behind the scene. When I talk to colleagues about how useful twitter can be, it helps to have a few examples to refer them to. This post will be useful.
    The value of social networks, like Twitter, for teaching, learning, and making new social connections cannot be underestimated. I’ll explore your Twitterstream and see what bright gems lay there.
    Stay connected. All the best.


      1. Greetings, Mark and Brad!

        Happy to connect, Mark. Did you give your presentation at #MINA2013 today on “Twitter, Instagram & Micronarratives”… or is it tomorrow (I’m a bit mixed up with the today/tomorrow distinction due to our IE/NZ time difference!)? Love the concept of shared micronarratives and its many creative possibilities. #ct231 students are exploring their own “creative moments” just now; this will be wonderful work to share with them.

        Brad, thanks for sharing the Thinglink mashup created by your students — wow! We are nearly at the end of our semester here but I’ll work with this same group of students next semester, when they will create and share digital media projects. It’s wonderful to be able to share such inspiring work done by other students.

        Thank you both 🙂

  6. Thank you for sharing your experience. I am using Twitter for the first time (beyond some BYOD in situ) I want to encourage students to collaborate in exam preparation across the year groups. I don’t know what to expect, I set up everything and posted the hashtag in our VLE, but don’t expect much activity until the classes next week.

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