Sunday, March 1, 2009

My thoughts on Twitter

I really like the idea of using Twitter to keep in touch with my higher education students immediately after a class meeting to make connections, elaborate on information shared, and relay after-thoughts. Many times, I will think of information that I would have liked to add during a class discussion but may not have had an opportunity or time constraints may have made me hesitant to do so. Presently, I put my thoughts into an e-mail or post on our discussion board.

However, I was fascinated to read in the box of tricks website,, that secondary students (ages 15-18) immediately check into social networking sites as soon as they can get to their computers. It was would be unreasonable to think that college students, particularly undergraduates, would act any differently. How much more efficient it would be to have the immediate connection of a Twitter posting, directly following a class discussion, while the information is still fresh in the minds of the students? The information relayed might be the same time of information that I would normally send out in an e-mail or discussion post, but using the vehicle of a Twitter or something similar would have a more profound impact on the student, as Twitter would have more immediate relevance and incentive for them than checking into their Buff State e-mail account.

Jeffrey Young raises valid points in his article discussing Twitter and college students. Although, as he mentions, iPhones and similar devices are becoming more and more common on college campuses, there is still the issue of cost to the student for a texting program, or for some, even the expense of the cell phone device itself. However, as Young mentions, Twitter messages can easily be sent to a web-based computer as opposed to a cell phone and it is true that many college students have package plans with mobile phone providers which allow for unlimited number of texts per month.

Young further discusses how some experts in the field of information technology feel that Twittering will never reach the heights of popularity that Facebook or e-mailing enjoy among young adults. That remains to be seen as Twitter is still in its infancy stages of development and exposure. Young raises several interesting points on is blog, located at

My thoughts about Twitter for personal use are a bit conflicted. I don’t really need another reason to be held captive in front of my computer, so I’m not sure how much I would use Twitter from a social point of view. That being said, I am excited to use Twitter for my college-aged students in a variety of ways. I do like how instant Twitter is and contrary to my initial thoughts, it doesn’t appear as if students use it exclusively in self-obsessive or narcissistic ways. Hopefully, it can be used as a way to disseminate information on a frequent, daily basis. I like the idea of sending students a message, probing question, writing prompt or thought for the day which would be relevant for their lifestyle, but still get them thinking about subject matter which we are currently discussing in our coursework. Students very often comment on the value (or lack thereof) that they find from their college classes, as they have a difficult time relaying what they are hearing, seeing and/or reading in practical, meaningful ways into their life. I think Twitter can bridge that gap and disseminate information in a manner which is current and relevant for a student.


  1. Wow Kathy, I really hadn't thought of twitter in the ways you have mentioned. I think of Twitter as more of a social venue for colleagues, classmates, or friends to use. Each time I use Twitter, I think in terms of colleagues and cohorts. I am not sure if I would use Twitter necessarily for my students to communicate with me.

  2. Kathy,
    Your ideas for twittering with students are innovative, but I have to give them some thought. It would seem to me that college students might feel that their privacy was invaded if their professor was "following" them. What are your thoughts?
    Dr. Burgos