Best Practices Examples: Twitter and Blogs
In this section you will find recommended best practices on using Twitter and blogs effectively in your teaching. In addition, sample activities have been included.
Note: The use of social media services and applications that are not supported by the University must follow university guidelines and policies. See U of T Guidelines on Teaching with Social Media for more information.
Twitter: Best Practices
- Provide a short Twitter briefing (with class hashtag) and a Twitter glossary for your course
- Clearly communicate the pedagogical rationale
- Model for your students how to be concise and creative
- Use it in first class: make an informal assignment to devise a 140-character answer to a question, and promote the best answers in class
- Participate regularly on Twitter during/after class—tweet useful links, retweet often, diversify its use
- Get students to connect in different ways: with you, the content, and each other
- Twitter is a public channel so be prepared for abuse
(From Chapman (2015) and Hawks (2012))
Twitter Activity/Assignment examples
Twitter 3 – 2 – 1: Hold a live chat so students can reflect on lectures and course readings.
(Adapted from Paterson & Rolheiser, 2009)
Purpose: To check for student understanding of course topics, and to provide students with an opportunity to give written feedback to instructor.
- Communicate to students the date and time on which the live chat will be held.
- Create a chat hashtag, such as #PSYC101chat or other unique hashtag, and instruct students to include the hashtag in every tweet during the chat.
- Before the session, decide on a format for the Chat & Learn, prompting students to prepare specific types of contributions. For instance, you may ask that they join the chat having prepared the following:
– 3 important points from the lecture. 2 Limitations of this perspective. 1 Point that was unclear.
- During the chat, look for patterns in responses and tweet your own thoughts or summaries to address students’ contributions and concerns.
The Twitter Essay
(Adapted from Stommel, 2012)
Purpose: to succinctly make and support an argument.
- Ask students to follow Twitter discussions on specific topics over a period of time. During this time, you may be instructing them on various aspects of essay writing, such as audience, brainstorming, providing support and revising.
- Tweet the Twitter Essay instructions in under 140 characters. For example: “What is a monster? Answer in a Twitter essay of exactly 140 characters using #twitteressay. Play, innovate, incite. Don’t waste a character.”
- Provide complete instructions on the activity/assignment, either in class or in your syllabus. Be sure to include the assignment or class hashtag in your instructions. If this is a new method of assessment for your students, consider providing a rubric detailing how their contributions will be graded.
- Ask students to retweet or quote their peers, providing their feedback and insight. Again, provide students with a rubric for this peer review step.
Blogs: Best Practices
- Lead by example: create a model post demonstrating how you expect students to contribute.
- Consider your options: individual student blog, small group blog or course blog aggregating everyone’s contributions?
- Think about who should be writing the content and how often, and who should be commenting on the content, and how often.
- If using a course blog, add a description to the blog. Readers should be able to understand the purpose and context of the blog.
Blog Activity/Assignment examples
(Adapted from Hedge, 2013)
Purpose: To have students report on their research or writing progress, while engaging with other students and learning to provide constructive feedback.
- Have students create their own, individual blogs. Blogs can be public (e.g., WordPress) or private (e.g., Quercus).
- Present students with a detailed description of what is expected for the blog. Consider including expectations on design aspects of the assignment/activity, such as images and layout, and content aspects such as research areas of interest, personal motivations for taking the course, etc.
- Students are asked to record their research process in their blog once a week.
- Toward the end of the course, peers are asked to provide constructive feedback on one or two classmates’ blogs. The feedback instructions can be open, or specific (e.g., state 1 thing you feel your peer did well, and 1 thing your peer could do to facilitate the research process/improve their writing).
- As a final contribution, students are asked to reflect on peers’ comments, providing a rationale for feedback they would like to incorporate into their work, as well as for feedback they will not incorporate.