Tuesday, December 8, 2015

31. Twitter for a Class

To get started on Stage 4 of the Twitter Bootcamp, you need to think about how to best build a CLASS TWITTER STREAM which you will share with your students in the form of a Twitter widget. See the bottom of this page for the widget I use in my Myth-Folklore and Indian Epics class (the same widget provides content for both classes). There are lots of possibilities, so you can explore and see what you think:

Hashtag: You can build a class Twitter content stream by using a unique hashtag for your class. I created hashtags for my classes by using the abbreviation for my school and the course number: #OU3043 is my Myth-Folklore class and #OU4993 is my Indian Epics class. You can use a hashtag for Twitter searches and also to build a Twitter widget. For example, see the Twitter widget in the sidebar of my Myth-Folklore blog and in the sidebar of my Indian Epics blog.
Note: Even if you use one of the other methods below for your stream, you'll still want to a class hashtag so that your students can use the hashtag too!

Likes: Another way to create a class Twitter content stream is to use the Like feature. If you do this, you should Like only for the items you want to share with your class. As you'll see in the next step, it is possible to create a Twitter widget that will display only your likes in the stream; you can also share the likes URL for your Twitter account with the class; to get that address, just add /likes to your URL, for example: https://twitter.com/OnlineCrsLady/likes.

Class Twitter Account: The solution I would strongly recommend is to go ahead and create a separate Twitter account for the content you want to share with your class. There are two ways to manage the class Twitter account — it can be an account that you control (that's how I use it) or it can be an account where you share the log-in with your students (the idea being that you all manage the account collectively).
  • Instructor-managed. You can see my instructor-managed account for both of my classes here: @OnlineMythIndia. Because I use my @OnlineCrsLady for professional networking, I definitely wanted to have a separate Twitter account for my classes, although I often retweet between the two accounts, especially for university-related events that I want to share with my own PLN and also with my students. 
  • Class-managed. You might have a class account that you share with your students, or your own class account, or maybe even both. If you want to distribute the username and password to your students in a secure environment, put that information inside the LMS. You'll also want to write up guidelines to your students about how to use the shared account. Their activity on the account will be anonymous, although you can ask them to include their names or pseudonyms in the tweets, for example.
Managing multiple accounts. If you are going to have both a personal Twitter account and class account(s), you'll want to find a good strategy for using multiple accounts without having to constantly log in and log out between them. My solution is to run each account in a separate browser: I always have my @OnlineCrsLady account running in Chrome, and @OnlineMythIndia running in Firefox. That has worked great for me! Another good solution is to use a Twitter tool like Tweetdeck or Hootsuite which will keep multiple accounts open for you in the same browser.

Define your goal(s). So, think about what would be best for your own goals in using Twitter with your classes. For me, the goal is to use Twitter as a quick and powerful broadcasting tool to share educational resources with my students. Because of the overlap between my two classes, it made sense for me to have one class Twitter account (separate from my personal Twitter account), while also being able to use the hashtags to identify course-specific content within that stream. What do you think will make sense for you? If you want to brainstorm, tweet me @OnlineCrsLady or leave comments here at the blog, or send me an email (laurakgibbs@gmail.com) if you want to explain your situation in more detail. I'll be glad to brainstorm together with you! You can find out about other teachers using Twitter here: Using Twitter with Students.

Start tweeting. After you have figured out what your hashtag(s) will be, tweet a few tweets with that hashtag in it. Let me know, and I'll retweet them. Include the #OpenTeachingOU hashtag too and let people know how you hope to be using Twitter with your classes.

NEXT STEP => Then, the really fun part: exploring Twitter content for your classes!

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