Twitter is a website that offers a social networking and microblogging platform where users can post and read messages known as tweets. Twitter is most often used as a way for people to communicate using short, frequent, and timely messages. It’s a combination of a text message, blog, and email, only each tweet is restricted to 140 characters or less. Tweets can be made from cell phones, computers, and even gaming counsels. Twitter first emerged in 2006 and it already has over 100 million users world wide. Twitter is not only an interpersonal networking tool it is also used by companies like Pottery Barn to announce sales and upcoming events and news stations like CNN to announce breaking news and articles.

Here's a brief video describing Twitter in plain English:

Related Theories

How twitter is leveraged in the classroom really determines which learning theory it is related to.
From a teacher assessment standpoint the 140 character brevity of these responses might make it difficult to understand how students are integrating the new information with other information, so supplemenatry mediums likely need to accompany twitter usage.
  • Behaviorism
    • If tweets are discussed in class as they are posted, the learner is receiving instant reinforcement, either positive or negative, of their thoughts, and reinforcement is the basis of conditioning.
  • Cognitivism
    • According to this theory humans learn by organizing information, and finding the connection between existing and new information. Tweeting responses may present some difficulties for organizing all of the information supplied but there should be many more pieces of information to try and form connections with. Teacher discussion around tweets integrating into the lesson should also help with the organization of all the information.
  • Constructivism
    • Tweeting allows each student to respond to a question or discussion prompt, when these prompts encourage thought and do not have a single faceted answer they can promote higher level thinking.
    • Response tweets involving links to other resources require student to apply what they have learned and synthesize it to understand what it means in real world application.
    • In the fieldtrip example (below in the lesson ideas section), students are able to immediately post feedback about their experiences on the fieldtrip and what they are learning.


  • Provides opportunities for everyone to participate in class discussions, both during and outside of class. This is especially helpful for classes with large numbers of students since most students wouldn't be able to participate in the traditional raise your hand and wait to be called on setting.
  • Provides shy students who might not be comfortable speaking in front of the class a way to participate (though this also might be a con in that students do not learn to become more confident in public speaking scenarios.
  • 140 character limit for tweets requires students to summary and provide concise responses. There is no room for fluff. (Also see the challenge of this in the Challenges section)
  • Students and teachers feel when Twitter is used correctly it catches students attention and increases their participation.


  • Tweets are limited to 140 characters in length which limits the type of answers students can give when using this medium to reply to class discussion. It is difficult to give in depth answers and supporting evidence with only 140 characters. (Also see the benefit of this in the benefits section)
  • Not every student has a laptop or cell phone, though the most recent PEW study found that over 80% of 18 year olds do have a cell phone.
    • Teachers have already found some creative solutions to this. Some teachers have students work on tweeting projects in pairs or groups. In the college course captured by the You Tube videa above the professor still allows students to write notes or replies and then the teaching assistant enters them in after class.
  • If students do have cell phones, a data or texting package is still necessary and this can become costly.
  • Helping students to understand the academic validity of the sites they might find.

Special Guidance

It may take students some time to learn how to use Twitter effectively. Twitter cannot really be used to have a real time conversation, and students may need instructions on how to receive Direct Messages and catch the @ replies.

Current Research

Twitter in the Classroom: Study Finds Increased Engagement
Joanna C. Dunlap and Patrick R. Lowenthal from the University of Colorado at Denver used Twitter as a way to enhance social presence in an online course. In an article that appears in the Journal of Information Systems Education the authors discuss the ease in which Twitter can enable “free-flowing just- in-time interactions” and describe the instructional benefits they discovered in using the micro-blogging service.

Articles Written on the use of Twitter in University Classrooms:

Professor Encourages Students to Pass Notes During Class via Twitter

Purdue University Adds Twitter to Class Participation

Lesson Ideas

After creating a free Twitter profile, students can gather information from a specific expert or news source, give feedback regarding a classroom assignment or homework, network with other students across the world, reflect on classroom projects, follow trends and current events, and participate in various classroom assignments.

Teachers can use Twitter to communicate with students and teachers, as a sounding board to exchange ideas with other teachers, to reflect on a classroom lesson or issue, to follow experts, and as a tool for classroom collaboration.

Examples of how to use Twitter:

Use Twitterfall
  • Twitterfall is basically a twitter search engine. You can type in any word you want like "education" or a phrase like "book club" and recent tweets with that word or phrase will be returned. This might be used, though I am not sure how effectively, to start learning about something new or finding interesting articles that might relate to a new concept.
    • Perhaps twitterfall would be a useful tool in a Language Arts class. Students can twitterfall a books title and see what other people have thought about the book or find interesting articles, websites, or blogs about the book.

Use Tweet Poll
  • Teachers can poll students opinions about a controversial issue. This might be used by a teacher to poll student opinions about a topic before an in class debate and afterwards.
  • Tweet poll allows users to even easily graph the results of the poll.
  • This tool is used by groups ranging from PBS and The Economist to sports teams like the New England Patriots

Document a Fieldtrip
  • There is an option in twitter to Geo tag your location when you tweet. You can also upload pictures via twitter. Some teachers have created a twitter account just for their fieldtrips where they can tweet the days activities and have students respond with their experiences at each location. This allows parents to see what their kids were able to do and for students to take a look back at their activities.

Class Scavanger Hunt
  • Create a list of questions students must find the answers to on the web. For example in a Geography class they could be asked to find a topographical map, the country's GDP, and natural resources. Once one team tweets a site the other teams cannot use the same site for the activity. This helps students to find multiple resources to find different kinds of information which they can use later. The teacher can even review sites posted to help students identify academically accepted sites.
Twitter in the Classroom
How Twitter is currently being used at Roosevelt HS in Minneapolis

How Teachers are Using Twitter
Teachers are always trying to get students interested and University of Texas at Dallas History Professor, Monica Rankin, found an interesting way to do it using Twitter


Below are links to websites that give educators ideas on using Twitter in the classroom:

50 ideas for using Twitter in Education

K-3 Twitter Teacher's Guide

25 Ways to Teach with Twitter

30 Ideas on How You can Use Twitter
This slide show gives 30 ideas on how you can use Twitter in the classroom:
This tool organizes links shared on Twitter into a newspaper-style format. Newspapers can be created for any Twitter user, list or #tag. You can search by newspaper categories like education, politics, travel, etc or type in your own search criteria.

Sign up for your twitter account today by clicking on the twitter icon below
Also look for this twitter icon on your favorite websites to follow them on twitter as well.
Don't forget to check out twitterfall as well

Educator Resources to follow in Twitter