25 Twitter Projects for the College Classroom

Much has been written about how Twitter is making its way into the halls of higher education. Go beyond the usual tips and strategies of using Twitter with these 25 projects that can be done in a college classroom. Part of the allure of Twitter is that it lends itself well to online classes, so many of these projects can be done without needing a physical classroom at all.

  1. Offer a class. Maybe this is going beyond just a project for the classroom, but some schools are offering classes and even entire degree programs on topics such as Twitter and social media. If your school doesn’t offer this yet, perhaps you can petition those in power to create one.
  2. Offer a snapshot of the students’ and professors’ lives. Borrow the idea being used at University of Chicago Law School. A website with basic information about the students and professors and a small bubble of their latest tweets provides a glimpse of the lives of those associated with the school. Your school can do the same–offering visitors and prospective students an idea of what they may experience.
  3. Connect with prospective students. Neil Bearse from Queen’s School of Business in Ontario monitors incoming Tweets with the search term “MBA” and engages the tweeters in conversation. Read how he may have found a prospective student for the MBA program.
  4. Post information. Many schools are using Twitter to post news, updates, communication within departments, connecting alumni, and even announcing job postings through Twitter. Learn how Sussex University in the UK is using Twitter in all these situations.
  5. Find information about research papers. Robert J. Simpson from Cardiff University started a project where he collects abstracts on any scientific paper archived at arXiv.org and mentioned on Twitter. Simpson’s Tweprints project includes information that allows those interested to find the papers through the arXiv ID number.
  6. Help small businesses in developing countries. A joint venture with MIT and a Mexican university, ITESM Zacatecas, has created a Twitter network that has saved small farmers in the area. The farmers can get market information via Twitter without making the long journey from their farm, connect with other farmers in the area for tips and strategies, and sell their products to large companies.
  7. Assignments for literature classes. Steve Rayburn, a teacher of high school juniors and seniors at University Laboratory High School in Illinois, used Twitter to have students post comments from Dante to his beloved Beatrice from each of the nine circles of hell and one from before or after the journey. Rayburn said the students were excited about the project and he could see evidence they read the assignment.
  8. Stay connected with conferences. Whether professor or student, whether attending or having to stay behind, anyone interested in following the activities and thoughts going on at professional conferences can stay connected through Twitter. Conference attendees can also participate in BackChatter, a Twitter game that draws those attending a conference into becoming interactive participants.
  9. Research Twitter. Clever students are beginning to see the value in researching Twitter, its usage, and implications of its usage. This study at University of Southampton explores the potential of Moodle, Twitter, and Second Life in education while this dissertation for a MSc degree examines how people use Twitter and the implications on technology usage in society.
  10. Practice a foreign language. Students in foreign language classes can use Twitter to connect with other Twitter users who are native speakers of the language students are learning. Using their budding language skills in this situation provides invaluable experience and instant feedback on how well they are doing.
  11. Use Twitter to teach reporting. Having students use Twitter to report results of a study or, in a more journalistic fashion, report events. By fitting everything students need to convey in 140 characters or less, they get practice in communicating the important information while leaving the fluff behind.
  12. Track a word or phrase. Select a topic relevant to what is being learned in class, then track it to see what news stories or conversations are revolving around that topic. Another way to use the tracking method is to track a word or phrase to see how it is being used by others. This is a great way to learn the nuances of words and phrases.
  13. Do community service. Organize a community service class project. Become inspired by this story of how Twitter helped bring water to 50 remote villages or how this business man organized donations through Twitter followers to benefit low-income or high-needs schools.
  14. Twitter-specific projects. As popular as Twitter has become, there are still plenty of people who have not used Twitter. Make sure students know how to use Twitter by offering assignments such as the one like Barbara Nixon of Georgia Southern University designed. You could even have the students at your online college for photography snap, post, and share photos with their phones for assignments and inspiration.
  15. Play Chain Stories. Students and bored office workers everywhere have played this game. Give it new life and make it educational by adding Twitter. Have students tell a story, 140 characters and one student at a time. Check out twittories to see how others have done it.
  16. Follow the news. Twitter has quickly become a recognized resource for up-to-the-minute news from well-respected news sources. Use the power of Twitter as a resource for current events and news in class.
  17. Citizen journalism. World events, such as the recent protests in Iran, are now being reported on Twitter by everyday citizens. Students and instructors alike can follow citizen journalism right alongside the mainstream news reports as they watch events unfold minute-by-minute.
  18. Host a Twitter treasure hunt. GPS treasure hunting was probably the first high-tech spin on this old favorite. Now you can do the same thing with Twitter, but instead of finding a small fast food toy as the reward, students can follow educational clues to reach whatever goal the instructor has set. The reward? A good grade, of course. Check out #22 here to see how one educator used this technique.
  19. Check out the recent public updates. The recent public updates shows the most recent posts from all Twitter users. This is a great place to spot trends and see what others are talking about. Classes exploring current events will love this opportunity to really see what people are interested in.
  20. Post lesson plans and notes. Instructors can post lesson plans. Students and other instructors can benefit from having access to these lesson plans. Twitter is also a great place to post notes before and after class. Students who missed a class won’t be completely in the dark and instructors can refer back to notes.
  21. Learn probability. Teaching the idea of probability doesn’t have to come straight out of books. Use this elementary teacher’s example as a springboard for ways to use Twitter to express the idea of probability. Don’t stop here. Use your creativity to come up with another math or statistical concept you can explain through Twitter.
  22. Follow mentors or famous people. If professors, mentors, or other key figures in your field of study are on Twitter, follow them to keep up with their research and activities. Although professors are busy people, they may be able to communicate with you, which may lead to future collaboration. This article offers a few lists of people you might want to consider following.
  23. Study geography. Use a combination of Twitter and Google Earth to help teach geography-based lessons. This teacher used his network of Twitter followers to create an interactive lesson for his young students. Use her idea to spark your creativity for ways to use these two resources.
  24. Collaborate and find support with other instructors. Learn from and share with other instructors at your own campus or at campuses around the world by sharing ideas, tips, and techniques through Twitter.Instructors can also reach out for advice or feedback on a specific task or project by sending a question via Twitter, like Tom Scheinfeldt’s did here.
  25. Connect with classrooms in a different geographic location. Collaborate with another classroom to expand the possibilities of learning. Share projects, have students do research specific to their geographic location, and collaborate all with Twitter feeds.

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