Twitter Assignments

We find that a lot of instructors want to incorporate new technologies into their curricula as a way to engage students with tools that they’re comfortable with and would understand but aren’t always sure how to do that, particularly for tools the instructors themselves may not use on a regular basis.  Take Twitter.  When Twitter launched, people jumped out of their chairs, pointed at it and exlaimed, “That’s it! The next big thing!”  It clearly had potential.  The only problem was…no one knew for what. That’s still a problem for many people.  “Sure,” they think, “I could use Twitter…but I don’t know what I’d use it for. Especially not in the classroom.”

And while there are reports here and there of faculty using Twitter as a way to send messages to their students, or to receive questions or feedback from their students, actually using Twitter itself as a model for a class lesson is much less common.  However, it can be done and it can be done very well.

While surfing comments on the news aggregator community Reddit, I came across a link someone posted, a screenshot of an assignment that (supposedly, anyway) their History professor had given them.  I thought it was such an interesting and fun assignment that I had to post it.  Click here to read the assignment.

What will instructors think of next?  No, really–I’d like to know!


A Tale of Two Screencasting Tools: Screencastle and Screenr for Twitter


“Screenr.  For Twitter.”  I do realize how ridiculous that sounds (I mean, just say it out loud).  However, for those of you who are frequent tweeters, or those who think you might become frequent tweeters if you ever find a use for it, Screenr might be just the kind of add-on you need.

Twitter has amassed a variety of add-in type services designed to allow you to stretch that 140 characters as far as you can.  For instance, what if you want to add a long link to your tweet?  Use or Tweetburner.  What if you want to share images?  Twitpic.

And now you can even do short video tweets using Screenr. Continue reading

§pecial Çharacters

Ever want to use special characters in a document, blog post, or tweet?  I’ve got just the website for you. is a simple website that allows you to click on any of the available special characters (they are copied to the clipboard automatically) and then paste them into whatever you’re working on.

There are also a few extra features to this site.  If you want to copy more than one character at a time, either hold “alt” on a PC or “option” on a Mac and click on as many characters as you want.  They’ll all be copied to your clipboard so you can paste them in any application.  The website even works on the iPhone, so all of you mobile “tweeters” can easily add smiley faces and snowmen to your posts.

The Social Media Revolution

The eLearning Technology blog has an interesting video up about the Social Media revolution that has overtaken much of the world. Some of the interesting statistics posted included:

  • 2009 US Department of Education study revealed that on average, online students out performed those receiving face-to-face instruction
  • 1 in 6 higher education students are enrolled in online curriculum
  • 80% of Twitter usage is on mobile devices…people update anywhere, anytime…imagine what that means for bad customer experiences?
  • Generation Y and Z consider e-mail passé…In 2009 Boston College stopped distributing e-mail addresses to incoming freshmen
  • According to Jeff Bezos 35% of book sales on Amazon are for the Kindle when available

I don’t think it’s quite news to most people these days that the changes in the way information is sent, sought out and digested has major implications for the way instructors teach and the way students learn, but I do think that often we don’t fully understand the scope of just how large Web 2.0 really is.

A Twitter + teaching skeptic (me) reconsiders

This evening a friend posted a tweet about tips for Twitter academic users.  Although I am a Twitter user, and have personal and professional friends with whom I twitter, I have had a difficult time envisioning how Twitter can be used effectively in most classes.  For maintaining simple communications across the country, following a conference through someone else’s experience or picking up interesting tips, Twitter has been a simple tool to use.  But some good educational examples were harder for me to perceive.

Then Judi Franz, a friend from UC-Irvine, posted a tweet link to Jill Gordon’s 100 Serious Twitter Tips for Academics.  Because it is a topic soon to be broached in a meeting, I thought I should approach the ideas with an open mind.  Gordon provides some real and appropriate suggestions for using the technology.  The article is not a simple list, but rather is divided into useful, focused sections such as Twitter Etiquette, Assignments Using Twitter or Finding People in Academia to Follow and contains myriad links.

Check it out and suggest it to another skeptic too.  If you have ideas for using Twitter in the learning process, please post a comment here so that others (and I) can benefit from your knowledge and creativity!

The Definitive Twitter Resource Guide: 201 FREE Twitter Tools

For those of you who do a lot of Twittering, and those of you looking to do more Twittering, and maybe those of you completely baffled altogether by Twittering, this handy little document lists 201 free tools that can help you use Twitter more effectively.  Effective Twittering, it’s not an oxymoron anymore.


Edmodo is a relatively new microblogging tool geared towards educators.  It’s sort of like combining the simplicity of Twitter with the grading tools of Blackboard.  Instructors can use it to share files and information, keep track of grades and provide an updated calendar of events and due dates (with RSS feeds). Continue reading