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Smart Tweets

Posted by on Tuesday, June 9, 2015 in Instructional Design, News, , , , .

"Using Twitter in the Classroom" Panelists

"Using Twitter in the Classroom" Panelists: Aimi Hamraie, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Health, & Society; Don Rodrigues, PhD student in English; and Vivian Finch, PhD student in German. Photo courtesy of Vanderbilt's Center for Teaching.

Kelli Marshall, Lecturer in the Communications Department at DePaul University, recently blogged about her experience in requiring students in a large lecture course to use Twitter. In, “Rethinking Twitter in the Classroom,” Marshall explains that the first time she required her class to tweet, many of the students “did not approve,” and she shares some of the helpful (as well as not so helpful) comments students left on her course evaluations.

Taking students’ perceptions into account for her next offering, Marshall describes the creative way she made sure to clearly set expectations for using Twitter from the first day of class, and how she changed the requirements around how tweets counted toward participation. Marshall points out that even when students had pushed back against using Twitter, they were successfully analyzing and synthesizing the topics under discussion, noting that,

“They were so busy hating Twitter they didn’t realize
how much they were learning or how much
they were thinking critically.”

Vanderbilt University faculty and graduate students recently shared some of their own experiences with using Twitter in teaching and learning during the Conversations on Digital Pedagogy session on “Using Twitter in the Classroom,” hosted by the Vanderbilt Institute for Digital Learning (VIDL) and the Center for Teaching.

Like Marshall at DePaul, Vanderbilt English Department’s Don Rodrigues uses Twitter to promote meaningful reflection and synthesis of ideas. His students also participate in “artifactual” missions, using Twitter to share real world examples of cultural and literary artifacts, as well as “flash readings” for which they capture a photo of annotated text, and tweet this image along with a key question to the class.

Vivian Finch, from Vanderbilt’s Department of Germanic & Slavic Languages, is experimenting with using Twitter as a vehicle for student-driven learning in her German classes. Although Finch initially saw the value of Twitter for students to gain access to authentic communication in the target language, she also pushed students to research trending topics to bring back for discussion. Finch ended up developing an innovative class project for which students use Twitter to collaboratively create an original short story in German over a 24-hour period, a digital storytelling technique Finch calls “Twitterfiction.”

Aimi Hamraie of Vanderbilt’s Center for Medicine, Health and Society, and researcher in disabilities studies and universal design, is using Twitter to explore new ways to use social media to make learning experiences accessible to more people, and to include more voices in the analysis and interpretation of those events. In addition to including voices beyond the walls of the classroom or conference room, another benefit of analyzing an event through Twitter discourse, notes Hamraie, is that there is a lasting record of the conversation that can be repurposed in later learning activities.

To hear more about how these innovators are using Twitter in their courses, please view the recording of “Using Twitter in the Classroom” here:

To learn more about events hosted by VIDL, please visit our Seminars page at

Do you have a story to share about how you’ve used social media in teaching and learning? Share it with us here – we’d love to hear from you!




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