Twitter is a powerful online social marketing tool that provides many services. The key features are communicating, staying connected and exchanging rapidly frequent messages. It allows its registered members to use texts, photos, blogging, broadcasting, videos, and hyperlinks. It provides the potential to communicate with a mass audience (Twitter n.d). Every day, billions of people use it and it is free to join. Therefore, it offers to broadcast global messages with ease. Based on these features, it can be used as an effective tool for educational purposes.
Considering the merits, Twitter can be used, for example, to teach history. The facilitator can broadcast the subject topic by using the Periscope app. Resources can be given, such as videos and photos, that relate to the subject. To extend the topic, hyperlinks can be attached for further reading. Different types of messages can be used to aid the teaching. The visual aids and teaching resources can be shared quickly. The advantage for students is that everyone can join the session from all over the world. Subsequently, it becomes a global classroom. Students can share their ideas by responding to each other at their own pace and that of the facilitator. This increases collaboration between students and has the potential to increase participation. It can also be helpful for students because they will not need homework. The reason is that homework can be embedded within the lesson and resources. Likewise, it offers inclusive practice because everyone will have access to the same page and same resources.
Comparing it with a traditional history classroom, an online classroom is more advantageous for the following reasons. It offers opportunities for students to blog, which allows a global discussion. For example, “Zionism” is a term that is understood differently in different parts of the world. A conversation around the topic online will enhance the understanding of different contexts, whereas this is often limited in a traditional class. This is to say that there is an opportunity for substantial collective thinking. Similarly, it allows students to use their own logic around the topic. The reason is that students are more independent, although the teacher will facilitate them when they require assistance. For example, if the discussion has gone beyond the topic, the teacher can narrow it down the path. Finally, to create engagement, gamification can be utilised. This means to make the non-gaming context into a gaming one (Calvillo-Gámez, 2010, p.49). Games can be incorporated into the lessons to keep the students engaged and motivated to learn.
However, they are many demerits and online classrooms can face some risks. One is regarding the question of whether it will be safe for students to be online. Going online on such a public platform means information about the individual will be publicised. The information can become readily accessible by the public. There are also concerns regarding who owns the data that is online. Similarly, there are issues of safety for the users. For example, the student may be from a country where it may be illegal to mention the specific topic of discussion. Furthermore, the facilitator does not have complete control over the discussion. Besides this, the discussion can lead to further informal discussions and students may not pay attention to the professional context. This can become a hindrance for learning. Also, there are issues regarding the integrity of submission. Students can join whenever they like and leave whenever they feel.
It could be argued that the Twitter environment is based on behaviourism. It requires certain facts and techniques to be learned (Ghergulescu 2016, p.825). The users will require a certain type of training. For example, there is vocabulary within Twitter such as “hashtag”, “tweet”, and “retweet”. Certain rules need to be practised and it is necessary to get used to having limited words (up to 140) for sending messages. However, the surface theoretical account regarding Twitter is that it is an open networking environment and is considered a social media tool. In a recent study, it was stated that a social media tool can be used for teaching as it has the basic ingredients for teaching. The knowledge in this case is networking itself and the learning is exploring this network (Khan and Singh 2016, p.650). The meta understanding is that the teachers and the students are connected with each other. Connectivitism implies that students can reach the external education network by creating and maintaining a connected relationship (Stephens 2016, p.25). A constructivist approach suggests that students and facilitators will identify how to discover links and patterns through their own experiences. Through constructivism, the Vygotskian thought of school suggests that Twitter is an educational network that will navigate its way to the innovative ways of exploration (Jalan 2016, p.15). Therefore, it continues the process on the scaffold to vertical upper levels.
My personal experience suggests that it is an effective tool that can enhance learning. However, it requires adaptation to its environment. There are a set of rules that need to be followed as sending tweets is limited to 140 words. It requires its own terminology to understand different functions and facilities such as “hashtags”, “tweet”, “retweet” etc. Today in England, the majority of people do use social media. Twitter is a widely accessible tool that can be used on laptops, mobile phones, and tablets. It amplifies the learning by using social media and a social network.
Calvillo-Gámez, E. (2010) ‘Assessing the Core Elements of the Gaming Experience’, Evaluating User Experience in Games. Vol 4 p 47-71
Ghergulescu, I. (2016) To Compute: A Novel EEG-Based TimeOnTask Threshold Computation Mechanism for Engagement Modelling and Monitoring‘, International Journal of Artificial Intelligence in Education, v26 n3 p821-854
Jalan, S. (2016) ‘Students’ Thinking Process in Solving Combination Problems Considered from Assimilation and Accommodation Framework’. Educational Research and Reviews, v11 n16 p
Khan, F. and Singh, K (2015) ‘ Curricular Improvements through Computation and Experiment Based Learning Modules.’ Advances in Engineering Education, v4 n4 p285
Stephens, G (2016) ‘Digital Liminality and Cross-Cultural Re-Integration in the Middle East‘, CEA Forum, v45 n1 p20-50