#twitterteach tip 18 – snagging content to share with your students

One of the main assests of twitter is it;s ability to let you share content instantly with large, or small numbers of people. It’s easy to tweet a link, many pages have buttons that tweet the page for you when you click them.

Why it could be a good idea/

Sharing content with your students is an excellent way to get them to value twitter as a tool. It’s a good way to get them using your hashtag, and it also models they type of twitter usage that will result in enhanced engagement, results and digital literacy skills. If you want them to engage meaningfully on twitter, you’ll probable have to show them the way. Unstructured use of social media in class may actually undermine learning. So, structuring twitter usage helps your students to get the best out of social media, and their learning experience.

Sharing meaningful, targetted and high quality links with your students is a way of showing them how they should use it themselves, and is part of the bogger conversation about why they should use it. The more useful the links are, the more you can show how useful twitter can be.

Here’s how to do it.

1. Build up a list of people you follow on twitter. Try to ensure those people are giving you the type of tweets, links and resources that are useful to you, and good quality. People who tweet good quality links are doing a lot of your research dfor you. The more you can trust the network of people you follow to give good links, the less research., sifting and discarding you will need to do. You’ll still need to read what you tweet to your students, but, with good decisions on who you follow, the quality to rubbish ratio gets better and better, and you’ll have a steady stream of links in your subject area to share.

If your students really embrace the technology and experience, you may find you are getting more from their links and shared resources, eventually, than they are getting from yours.

2. Consider using an rss service. rss is a facility that lets webpages, blogs, sites, magazines and journals, amongst others, notify people when they have updated. An rss reader lets you decide which sites you want to be notified about when they update. When you subscribe to a site’s rss feed, your rss reader automatically notifies you when it updates, and gives you a summary of what’s been updated.

The benefit here is you can track all the blogs, magazines et’c you are interested in from a single website, or window. The reader grabd all the updates and automatically feeds them in to your screen, saving time and effort, and making your reader a one stop shop for everything you are interested in. Their is setup work involved. You’ll have to build up a list of the sites you are interested in, but adding a site takes seconds. An afternoons research and work can set you up with a good feed.

This will also give you grist for your own network building mill. The more good quality resoruces you have to share generally on twitter, the more people will follow you.

Rss readers are typically easy to use, personalise, and add to, and many will have suggestions for other content for you to follow.

3. Social Bookmarking.

Of the three, this is probably the biggest investment in terms of time. Social Bookmarking involves sharing your bookmarks with other people, and getting access to theirs. Like twitter, it;s network based. You build a network of people who share with you, or who you share with. The bookmarks will often be categorised by subject, so people will be bookmarking in maths, or science education, or Star Wars miniature collection. People add bookmarks – sometimes annotating them with comments or ideas, and these are shared.

#twitterteach tip 17 – Tweet in character

There are lots of examples of people livetweeting as a character from a book, or from history. It’s a way tro inhabit that person’s context, fictional, or historical as that may be. It’s a way to create an understanding of historical, personal, social or historical contexts from a personal perspective.

In order to tweet as a person, you have to understand their psarticular context, perspective. What makeds them who they are.

Here are some examples.

The Jane Austen Twitter Project is a twitter collaboration between individuals online who co-wrote a book ( A Ball at Pemberley )- in their own tweets.

A Ball at Pemberley came into being after Adam Spunberg and famed author Lynn Shepherd conceived of an idea: What if Jane Austen lovers from around the world could tweet a Jane Austen sequel in turns? Later on, Savanna New would also join the admin team and together, tens of people from six continents would go on to write a 100,000-word novel!”


This is an account run by an historian, Alwyn Collinson, who has been livetweeing world war two.

Here’s wikipedia’s account of him.

“Collinson began the feed in late August 2011, to coincide with the start of World War II with the German Invasion of Poland in September 1939. He has tweeted the events of the war as they happened on each date and time exactly 72 years earlier. Currently tweeting the events of January 1941, the feed has over 265,000 followers and has received worldwide media attention”

The account follows the timeline of the war, with tweetsd from real events that happened on the day.

<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet”><p>Japanese in China have better equipment but are badly outnumbered- in Changsha, 120,000 Japanese faced 1.2million. <a href=”http://t.co/2jOCbaeKcX”>pic.twitter.com/2jOCbaeKcX</a></p>&mdash; WW2 Tweets from 1941 (@RealTimeWWII) <a href=”https://twitter.com/RealTimeWWII/statuses/388429761749340160″>October 10, 2013</a></blockquote>
<script async src=”//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js” charset=”utf-8″></script>


does something similar. Tweets from the UK national Archives which follow the Second World War unfolding to the day, 70 years later.

<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet”><p>Viscount Cranbourne: an official approach to de Valera would be &quot;useless for the present and harmful for the future&quot; <a href=”http://t.co/1Rr1V4PWOr”>http://t.co/1Rr1V4PWOr</a></p>&mdash; War Cabinet (@ukwarcabinet) <a href=”https://twitter.com/ukwarcabinet/statuses/389332367292497920″>October 13, 2013</a></blockquote>
<script async src=”//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js” charset=”utf-8″></script>


Scott’s journals of his ASntartic voyage  tweeted day by day.

There are hundreds of characters from history and fiction tweeted. It can be a way for your students to follow an event or person from history, or to recreate it themselves.

twhistory is a site with resources and space for students to recreate a character or event from history through tweets, a reenactment of history broadcast in real time. They post projects for students to do and support them with resources. Everything from the History of the Internet, to the War in Afghanistan to the Boston Tea Party.

#twitterteach tip 15 – follow and interpret a relevant feed

Here the idea is to have your students select, and follow one or more people and hashtags that are relevant to the topics, projects or themmes being followed in class.

How to do it

You might want to do some backround research yourself here, depending on how twitter literate your students are, and how adept they are at navigating and finding what they want.

The ideal candidates to follow are people, or individuals, who post resources, links, and information in the field you are looking for, and are talking about the topic in the ways that you want.

Perhaps it’s something that is unfolding, like a scientific discovery, or a current event, so someone livetweeting the events, while supplying contextualising links and tweets would be ideal. Maybe it’s an already established field, and you are looking for professionals in that field who tweet about specific tiopics, informatively.

It might be useful to have a bank of people, and hashtags, in case your students are struggling. With a fertile enough hashtag, students can pick and choose likely candidates who post to it, and with a popular and informative tweeter, they might grab people from their list of followers.

Why you might want to

It’s a way to teach digital literacy, and a project based way to introduce, amnd practice, information sifting, source assessment, and locating reliable and good information online.

It loans itself very well to project work. Tweets are embeddable in blogs, you can storify them, you cab screenbgrab them, or embed them in other media, or websites (like tagborad, rebelmouse). It;s easy to make a visual, or storify them into an essay, or embed them in a presentation. And the variety and divergence of opinion, expertise, ideas and resources students can uncover can be hugely worth the investment.

Additional resources

#twitterteach tip 12 Teaching Digital literacy, modelling digital citizenship

Digital Literacy and Digital Citizenship are different, though sometimes related ideas.

Digital Literacy is, in short, the ability to use digital technologies effectively, to be technically comfortable with them, and have the information sourcing, sifting and assessing skills necessary to use them effectively. Knowing what to look for online, how and where to find it, and whether you can trust it or not when you do.

Tjhe abundance of information, the rte of change, and the huge number of changing platforms online make information sifting, sourcing and assessing a key skill. George Siemens argues we are shifting from know what to know who, and know where – who knows where to find what I need, and where can I look for this

Digital Citizenship has various definitions. But, in essence, it’s acting responsibly, and appropriately, with respect for others and yourself online. It sometimes includes the idea of digital literacy. It covers ideas of etiquette,

There are multiple resources for Digital Citizenship classes, courses and lessons online – there’s a link at the bottom of the post. The thrust of this post will be why you might need to teach both of these. The how is a little too big for this blog, but the resources at the end shpuold help a lot.

When we encoiurage ourstudents to use technology, to sign up fpr accpounts, to share information aboit themselves online, we are taking on a responsibility. The technologies we use generally try to make a profit somehow. Either they sell us something, or, what they sell is us – information about how we use their services, where we go online and what we do, who we connect with, what we writer about in emails, ip addresses, the contents of our contacts from our email and phones. If you use mapping software with your smartphone, or geotag your tweets, where you are and when you were there is ionformation that can be bought and sold.

The relationship between what we create online, and who has what ownership claims on it is complicated. To a degree, even legal professionals, at times, are speculating. When you add in the permanence inherent in most digital transactions ( Google will, possibly, never truly delete your data, emails or drive documents, Twitter is permanemtly archived by the US Library of Congress, amongst others. Storify lets you save another persons tweets and share them, even if they delete them. You social media photos, posts, status updates, your youtube videos, can all, often, be used by the company that hosts them, or their assigned partners, for any purpose whatsoever, glovbally and in perpetuity.

Information literacy

#twitterteach tip 11. Twitter as a feedback forum.

Feedback flows multiple ways. Here, I’m focusing on feedback from students to teachers/lecturers. And I’m focusing on two types. Active feedback, where students give feedback on specific points, and passive feedback, where the transparency of twitter, and curation artefacts, allow you to glean.

Active feedback

This can be done in severak ways. You can setup a twitter poll, to collate answers from a particular question or poll during, or after class. You can ask students a particular question about the topic, lesson, resources or context.

The advantages are, it’s easy, instantaneous, and quick. But do be careful. As the feedback is both public (unless your students DM you) and linked to their iodentity, the takeup on this avenue may be quite low.

Passive feedback.

This is probably where twitter will be of greater help. If your studnmets twet aspects of their classes, or their project work, if they livetweet notes and curate them, if there is a backchannel during class, or you have a hashtag where students can access hep from you, other teachers, or other students, then you have a rich vein of material to mine for data about the topic, your students, and how things are going for them.

Diane Laurillard has a nice duagram, describing the feedback loop between stusdents and teachers, teachers and students, and students and students. For her, the feedback is both face to face, and online, depending on her blend of the class. And all fporms of feedback are useful.

Part of Laurillard’s feedback involves teachers having access to stuedents reflections. Their reflections on their own work. Their reflectioins on the work of othjers. Their reflections o their meetings with teachers, on peers comments on their ideas, projects and thoughts, their assessment of their pwn progress, and their assessment of the material, advice and assessments they get from their teachers.

The fact that digital formats allow teachers to access all of these reflections is an iommensely powerful tool. When I wnet to college, email accounts were things your university gave you if you had a valid research reason. Twitter and Facebook didnlt exist. Tutorials, lectures, and coffee table conversations after class were the extnt of the reflectve process.

Doigital reflections allow you to see the entire process. They let the lecturer sit down at the post seminar coffee table with everyone who has the cpnversation digitally. They let you see the note taking process unfold for your students. You get to see their concepts form as they take shapoe online.

You get to see what went well in class. What didn;t. What examples and teaching points helped form concepts, and what onews hindered. You get to see where people need more help, and where they need less. You get to give feedback on concpets as they are being formed. Thos is the esence, in some ways, of Laurillards Convcersational framweork. You get to access the conceptualisations of your students as they form, and that access allows you to tailor your next set of lectures, tutorials, or projects to the insights into their needs this has allowed you to gain. You can identify troublesome concepts, and feed that knowledge in to your lesson planning.

It’s a wa for your students to, consc=iously and unconsciously, provide you with the formative feedback that can help develop a more targetted, apt, and needs appropriate teaching practice.

Digital media can help make your studnets inner workings transparent to you in ways that were either stupoendously difficult, or impossible in conventional ways.

Twitter, and curation tools, can be a larg part of that process.

#twitterteach tip 9 Real life examples

Thanks to both Jessica Caviness, and Novemberlearning.com for this one.

Part of creating, using and popularising a classrrom hahstag amongst your students may mean that both you, and they, engage with each other outside of normal class hours, and in contexts that are from you own lives.

Jessica Caviness, a States based math teacher, found herself tweeting to her geometry students from a baseball game. She tweeted a picture of a soda cup from a Texas Rangers game she was at, asking her students to come up with a math/geometry question based on the cup, involving volume. She also gave a shout out for the Rangers.

Students dropped what they were doing, and hopped online to post questions.

Here’s why you should do it.

Many, most, or possibly all of your students are already on social media, and already share in this way. Sharing with students on social media looks like it may increase participation. Personally, I’ve always found I get more from studnets when I share authentically with them something of my own life. Maybe because it;s what I ask them to do. There’s some research to suggest this is good pracitivce on social media.

Posting photos to twitter is easy to do. It takes seconds, and seconds more to think of a neat idea and tweet it.

This is a neat way of flipping your classroom, and getting your students to do the work of flipping it. There’s a good argument for getting your students to do some of the lifting work in designing questions, problems and projects for each other, with good guidance and scaffolding from you.

Some ideasa

Post real life photos like Jessica, and have your students tweet questions for you to do in class.

Set a theme, topic or idea for tomorrow’s class and set twitter based photo and tweeting homework based on it. If there’s a festival or national holiday, have your students take photos of things they found interesting and tweet them with a headline for discussion in class. Have you students visit a museum or exhibition on a topic and photo and tweet particular exhibits for class discussion.

How to do it

Set up a class hashtag.

Make sure your students follow you, and each other.

Make sure you know how to add images to tweets (On you smartphone, typically, take a photo, bring it up on screen, press the screen and wait for a share icon or button, and tap the app you use for twitter).

Try to choose authentic examples from your own life, and add something personal, even if it is homework.

#twitterteach tip 8 – helpline support

This can be taken in three ways. At least. Twitter can be a helpline for you, as an educator. There are thousands of educators, thousands of experts, and  millions of people capable of acting as a resource. The right network, hashtag or tweetchat can help you connect with them.

It can act as a helpline for your students, in similar ways, and for similar reasons.

And it can allow you to operate as a helpline for your students.

It’s the last one here I want to focus on.

Twitter as a student helpdesk

Attribution NoncommercialShare Alike Some rights reserved by lamont_cranston  http://www.flickr.com/photos/theshadowknows/2995004692/sizes/l/in/photostream/

Attribution NoncommercialShare Alike Some rights reserved by lamont_cranston

You can use twitter in numerous ways, but one way is to allow you to extend your office hours and space. With twitter, you and your students can be available to each other anywhere, and, at anytime you both find convenient.

If your students need your help, while they are working on an assignment, or on a project, or doing the reading or research for the course, they can catch you on twitter, easily, quickly, and in a way that’s convenient for you both. The help you give can be topical, and can be given where and when it’s needed, while the question, context or problem is still fresh.

Why you should

The more you use twitter as a resource to help students, and the more available you are on it, the more they are likely to value and use it as a resource too.

If you want your students to engage critically, helpfully and constructively with each other on twitter, and other forums, one of the most useful things you can do, and most effective, is model that kind of interaction. If your engagement with students is prompt, respectful, meaningful, and constructive, they are quite likely to use that as a template for how they engage with each other.

Twitter can allow you to give instantaneous, useful and fast feedback. In online environments feedback is especially useful. Apart from helping students to conceptualise ideas or topics well, giving them corrective feedback, or directing them to useful resources, the act of feedback will tend to mean your students impart a greater sense of value to the course. Put simply, if you give good feedback, with a reasonable turnaround time, your students will tend to respond with greater motivation and persistence.

Twitter is both instantaneous, and asynchronous. If you are online, you caan respond immediately. If you are offline, you can reply when you come on. This makes it both rapid, and convenient. Students seem to value the convenience of just being able to send their query off, without having to schedule a meeting, or duck and dive to arrange convenient times.

In addition, you can bring in a larger team of experts to help you here. A twitter hashtag is an easy thing for multiple instructors to monitor, and lowers the admin involved in referring students on. If your project is interdisciplinary, and you have several instructors or mentors working with it, a question posted on the hashtag will find it’s own way to the person, or people, who needs to answer it. If this is well orchestrated, and people monitor the hashtag, feedback can become a quicker, more focused and more useful thing.

How to do it

Set up a class hashtag, or a project hashtag (make sure it’s not in use by someone already by searching it on twitter before you share it)

Make sure anyone who needs the hashtag has it, and knows how it will be used, and, if there are time constraints, what they are.

You may need, for your own sanity, to decide that you have offline times, when queries definitely won’t be answered.

Make sure all queries are answered, even if the answer is “I don’t have the answer yet, but I will”.

Encourage your students to pile in and help each other.

Think carefully about the type of interaction you want your students to have with each other, and you, and model that.

I find it useful to think about the likely problems or questions that are likely to come up during the lesson planning stage, and to marshall those resources that might help with these issues in an easy to access place. Typically, I’ll have a useful resources set of links at the bottom of my electronically storied lesson plan.

Twitter is instantaneous. It’s fast. It’s easy to update, and follow, from a smartphone. It won’t take much of a bite from your students data plan if they are out and about, and it allows you to ask quick questions, and post fast answers.

#twitterteach tip 7. Have your students curate a topic.

Curation involves a couple of skills. And these skills are useful, both in navigating online sources, and in assessing, selecting and engaging with sources of information more genrally.

Simply put, curation often involves selecting resources, then sifting them for relevance, usefulness and trustworthiness, and the creation of an artefact based on the resources which is then shared.

It can be something as simple as a list of links, tweets, videos or articles, culled from someone’s twitter feed or as complex as a finished project and presentation that’s based on resources culled from multiple platforms and built on to create something new, like a mini lecture, or digital story posted you youtube.

Tools for organising Twitter (and other media)


Lets you grab content from the internet and pin it to a board, based on topic, and add your own comments. Think of it as a magazine you make by choosing content you like.

You can install scoop.it on your browser toolbar, and then you click the button, and it grabs the page, or tweet, and posts it to your scoop. A small box opens to let you add you comments on the piece – your criticisms, assessment, thoughts and ideas – which will be posted to the board too. Scoop will then display a snapshot of the page you grabbed, your headline, and the beginning of the comments. And you can click on the board to see the original article.

Like most curation tools, other people can link to your content, and when they do it will be attributed to you.

Scoop will also embed in wordpress blogs, and you can set it so that anything you scoop gets posted automatically to your twitter feed.


It’s covered in more details elsewhere.

Lets you collect posts from social media and collect them together on a page. You can add comments, and other people can also comment. Where scoop displays more as a magazine, storify displays as a story, that you footnote with your thoughts as you stitch it together.

Where scoop is good for gathering general materials together on a topic, and is maybe a little more shallow in nterms of how much you assess it, storify seems to give a little more depth and focus on specific issues, and lets you curate a little more deeply.



My twitter shares on rebelmouse, Click on it to go to my Rebelmouse page

My twitter shares on rebelmouse, Click on it to go to my Rebelmouse page

Rebelmouse automatically collates anything you share on multiple social media into one place and page. I use it to collate my twitter shares – all the aricles, videos, photos and links I post on twitter.

It will collate from your Twitter Facebook, Instagram, Flickr, Google+ , Linkedin, Youtube and Tumblr accounts, as well as rss feeds from blogs.

Personally, I find Rebelmouse to be a useful tool for visualisation, and presentation, and keeping overall track of things I’ve shared, but for in depth curation, I tend to go with scoop, storify, or blogging, depending on the depth and breadth.

#Twitterteach tip 6. Have a live news feed in your classroom.

A huge part of Twitters appeal is how instantaneous and bleeding edge now it is. Add in it’s popularity, and it;s spread (geographical, cultural, knowledgebase) and it becomes a hugely interesting resource for topics, projects and discussions that are about the here and now.

Physicists tweeted about the Higgs Boson as it was being described to the world,

<blockquote><p>And combined – 5 sigma. Round of applause. That’s a discovery of a Higgs – like particle at CMS. They thank LHC for the data!</p>&mdash; Brian Cox (@ProfBrianCox) <a href=”https://twitter.com/ProfBrianCox/statuses/220421357656211456″>July 4, 2012</a></blockquote>
<script async src=”//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js” charset=”utf-8″></script>

or the discovery of ice on Mars

<blockquote><p>Are you ready to celebrate? Well, get ready: We have ICE!!!!! Yes, ICE, *WATER ICE* on Mars! w00t!!! Best day ever!!</p>&mdash; MarsPhoenix (@MarsPhoenix) <a href=”https://twitter.com/MarsPhoenix/statuses/839088619″>June 20, 2008</a></blockquote>
<script async src=”//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js” charset=”utf-8″></script>

be there as history is made. And tweeted.

<blockquote><p>We just made history. All of this happened because you gave your time, talent and passion. All of this happened because of you. Thanks</p>&mdash; Barack Obama (@BarackObama) <a href=”https://twitter.com/BarackObama/statuses/992176676″>November 5, 2008</a></blockquote>
<script async src=”//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js” charset=”utf-8″></script>

or maybe it’s something in current affairs and you want to get perspectives, and eyewitness experiences as they happen

#Syriacrisis feed from Twitter

#Syriacrisis feed from Twitter

Whatever it is, it’s happening on Twitter, and having the hashtag scrolling down through the class on a screen or whiteboard can give your class insights, experiences and avenues to engage with the topic that few other media can.

You might connect, over twitter, with an expert, or local resident, who have a unique and valueable perspective that they will share with your class. Unexpected aspects of the topic will cone up – John McCain playing poker, Syrian refugee camps in Bulgaria

<blockquote data-partner=”tweetdeck”><p><a href=”https://twitter.com/search?q=%23Syria&amp;src=hash”>#Syria</a> <a href=”https://twitter.com/search?q=%23SyriaCrisis&amp;src=hash”>#SyriaCrisis</a> Bulgaria unable to cope with Syrian refugees: <a href=”http://t.co/XZRokvKAoM”>http://t.co/XZRokvKAoM</a></p>&mdash; Romayne Phoenix (@romaynephoenix) <a href=”https://twitter.com/romaynephoenix/statuses/380286109705842688″>September 18, 2013</a></blockquote>
<script async src=”//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js” charset=”utf-8″></script>

Having a live twitter feed introduces an element of chance, randomness and openness to the discussion. There will be things to agree or disagree with, new and unexpected perspectives, multiple information sources, media, and resources. There will be tweets that provide context, and tweets that provide opportunities for contextualisation.

It’s also an activity that students can extend into their own downtime, or as a homework activity – students can pick tweets that intrigued them, or challenged them, or look likely to provide new perspectives and information, and do the investigation on them at home, to present in class.