How do you use Twitter in your classroom?

Tuesday, August 6th, 2013

So I’ve been working on the assignments for my Grant writing class this fall and paying close attention to how I set up the twitter since it is entirely new and I’ve never taught Grant Writing before, as the most I’ve done is led some mini-lessons, so this will be new.

I figured there are two ways I can approach and use Twitter in this class that I think could work out well considering past experience with Twitter in the classroom:

  1. Have each student create an individual account where they follow organizations who promote or work with issues the student is interested in. For example, if the student is interested in looking at gender issues for their final project, they could follow organizations related to gender, such as gender in education and so on. They would do this throughout the semester, engage in a number of tweets and retweets, and be graded on elements of consistency, engagement and design. This is a brief overview of the assignment I have written up.
  2. The second option involves a group twitter profile that they create for the Mary’s books proposal. The Twitter would represent their company and they would tweet about their projects, such as Mary’s books, follow relevant organizations and basically this would be a type of fictional account, since the company does not really exist. And i imagine that there may be a group in the class who wishes to create a twitter presence anyway if we are already using Twitter. There is always one group that really enjoys this project and does a lot with it, or at least this is true from what I have seen in the class.

While I think #2 could be fun, I ultimately choose number one because when I took this class as a student, I had no idea what I wanted to do for my final project. I was new to my program. I had no remote idea of what I wanted to pursue for a dissertation. At the same time, I wanted the project to count for something beyond the class, which sadly didn’t happen, but that is mostly my own fault. So my main motivation for writing out the assignment related to number one is because of my own experience and the fact I have thought way more about option #1 than number two. Plus, I’ve had students do similar assignments in my Business Writing class and in my Writing in the Humanities and Social Sciences class.

But my questions are how do you use Twitter in your classroom and do you have any feedback for the ideas above? I welcome any suggestions or further ideas. Thank you. Below is the assignment I have created, so feel free to use it in your own classes if you think it sounds interesting:

Twitter Assignment

Genre and Length: A social media profile to be completed throughout the course. 16 tweets/retweets total plus appropriate design and followers/follows

Due Date: The final exam time, TBA. Please email your twitter profile address to me or follow me on Twitter at @adventuresinphd

Assignment Description: You will be asked to first create a Twitter profile (www.Twitter.com) for use in following organizations related to your social, political, and personal interests and other non-profit entities and/or people who are involved in non-profit organizations you are interested in to learn more about issues, discussions, and other information relating to your interests. With this assignment, you will be required to tweet relevant material that is related to these interests or goals. This means you will have to do some research on your own to learn more about these interests and/or find relevant news articles. You will also have to retweet your followers as well if something they tweet is relevant to your own interests, goals or motivations. I ask that you follow at least 10 organizations/people/etc, but you may follow more. I ask that you have at least 16 tweets and retweets meaning 8 tweets and 8 retweets during the semester, but you may have more. Each tweet and retweet should be relevant to your goals and motivations, which should be outlined on your short profile biography.

Purpose: Doing this will provide an excellent opportunity for you to see conversations regarding your interests that are happening now. Also, this may help to give you ideas for your final project. Also, using social media for organizations is very important, and I believe this assignment will give you good examples of how organizations use social media and get some practice doing it for yourself.

Rubric: Twitter Assignment

Content:

  • Tweets and retweets are 16 in total
  • Tweets relate to interests student chose to focus on, as reflected in 140 character bio
  • Student has followed at least 10 relevant organizations or people
  • Student has included other media when relevant, i.e. multimodal elements with video, pictures, or other links.

/50 points

Design and Consistency

  • Twitter profile has a professional design that is appropriate to the subject at hand
  • Tweets and retweets took place at different times throughout the semester, i.e. student didn’t do a number of tweets or retweets in last days or weeks.

/20 points

 

Engagement

  • Student shows an engagement with the audience and has an awareness of the audience in terms of organizations, tweets, retweets, tagging, design, etc.

/30 points

/100 points total

Disclaimer:  I place a lot of emphasis here on engagement, precisely because that has been my biggest concern in grading Twitter profiles. Students often don’t show any engagement–they just make sure they have the required amount of tweets, retweets, and followers and that they use multimodal elements. So if you do decide to teach Twitter, I would put emphasis on seeing how students are engaged in the task at hand, and you can do this simply by looking at the contextual/content quality of the tweets, who the student follows, if the student engages with their followers, if the student just did the required work in a week or so, and so on. I know the term “engagement” may be somewhat open ended, and I did my best to explain it in the assignment sheet and rubric, but just be open to the importance of emphasizing the quality of the work and not just the content of the work. Realize as well that you will need to emphasize this in class quite a bit and describe exactly what you mean by engagement to them and give them some good examples, via your own twitter profile and/or other twitter profiles.

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