Online Teaching: Twitter Trials Pt. 1

This past week I was inspired like many of you by the Twitter experiment performed at UT Dallas. As an online teacher, I was excited about the various possibilities in which I could get my learners to carry discussions outside of the forum as I presented the materials. I enjoy small classes for online teaching. However, I think Twitter definitely provides online teachers with a way to have larger classes interact with the material being presented. Therefore, I decided to perform my own Twitter experiment by offering a free Twitter Discussions series online for students.

Mindmap of Twitter

Teaching Trials

Those of you who teach online know this is a whole different ball game! Specifically, I had planned beyond most of my students’ experiences not realizing that most of my students were newby Twitterers. I decided to switch gears and share my desktop with my students so I could demonstrate how to sign-up for an account, make updates, and create a profile. Sharing a desktop is very useful technology; however, many online teachers know that taking up too much bandwidth will cause you problems. For some of the lesson, my poor students could not hear me explain the technicalities of Twitter.

Sound Advice

To avoid these problems for future classes, my good friend taught me how to make a tutorial video using CamStudio. Although there are several great sources of information for Twitter users, I catered my video to English Language Learners. If I have technical difficulties with my sound then I can simply play the video recording of the lesson. The following are more suggestions and resources to ensure your Twitter teaching experience runs smoothly:

  • Realize your students will need adjustment time! This advice comes via Cole W. Camplese’s experiment using Twitter in his graduate classes.
  • Register the class with Group Tweet to make conversation easier & trackable!
  • Use hashtags to organize student Tweets. This advice comes via UT Dallas professor, Monica Rankin, of the famous Twitter experiment video.
  • Discuss with your students the merits of using Twitter. This advice comes via Marquette University professors who teach their students to use Twitter to report events, connect with field experts, market advertising campaigns, and use as a professional networking tool.
  • Realize chaos may occur and be okay with this!

Further sources you may find helpful are:

Have fun tweeting with your students! Next TechTuesday I will share with you my Twitter lesson plan and more helpful advice!

Getting the Most out of Twitter

Do you have a tip for teachers to get computers in the classroom? Please, contact me to have that idea featured on a future Tech Tuesday post!

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Shelly Terrell

Shelly Sanchez Terrell is a teacher trainer, author, and international speaker. She is the host of American TESOL’s Free Friday Webinars and the Social Media Community Manager for The Consultants-E. She has co-founded and organized the acclaimed educational projects, Edchat, ELTChat, The Reform Symposium E-Conference and the ELTON nominated Virtual Round Table language and technology conference. Her prolific presence in the educator community through social media has been recognized by several notable entities, such as The New York Times, UNESCO Bangkok, Edweek, Converge Magazine, the United Federation of Teachers, the 140 Conference, Mashable, English Central,, and T/H/E JOURNAL. Her education blog, Teacher Reboot Camp, is ranked as one of the top 10 language teaching and technology blogs and the 50 best blogs for education leaders. In 2012 find her book, The 30 Goals Challenge for Educators published by Eye on Education and participate with over 7000 educators worldwide in this online professional development course that helps educators develop Personal Learning Networks and accomplish social media and teaching goals. Find her on Twitter, @ShellTerrell. Shelly has taught English language learners at various levels since 1998 in the US, Greece, and in Germany. She currently presents and hosts workshops on integrating technology effectively with young learners and adults. Shelly holds an Honours BA in English and a minor in Communication with a specialization in Electronic Media from the University of Texas in San Antonio and an Honours MA in Curriculum Instruction ESL from the University of Phoenix.

2 thoughts on “Online Teaching: Twitter Trials Pt. 1

  1. Hi Shelley,
    It must have been a great class. To learn how to do something online , you have to try it out – and this goes for Twitter more than anything else. It took me a year of tweeting to begin to understand the power of Twitter. In the meantime my network has grown and that is what has made all the difference.
    You have provided a lot of great resources in this post. I really like your blog.

    1. Hello Natasa Bozic Grojic,

      I am glad you are enjoying the blog! I think you are correct in your assessment that teachers and students have to try something out to learn it! When I began integrating technology in the classroom, I learned quickly to do the research then just try it!

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