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Twitter With Education


Media Literacy is essential in today’s education.  In order to strengthen student’s media literacy, the education system has to provide situations inside or outside the classrooms where students can use mediums of media and different technologies in their studies. Twitter, a social networking website, can be used as a means to educate youth and keep them involved. The purpose of this website is to show how twitter can be beneficial to education, the downside to using social media in education and exploring whether or not is it just another way to market an agenda.

What is Twitter?

Twitter is a Social Networking Website and was founded in 2006 by Jack Dorsey (Sarno). It is a microblogging site that allows a user to post text-based messages, known as “tweets” in 140 characters or less (Twitter). Posting links, pictures and whatever you want to convey is just the tip of the iceberg, Twitter helps people develop networks and relationships between people. Twitter works by allowing users to follow and get followed, meaning that based on you interests you may want to see a specific user’s stream of tweets by that can happen by following them.  It all started on from an idea that turned into a sketch and later became a leading social networking site. Twitter’s open format has drawn them over 175,000,000 users becoming a global community, linking people each other all over the world with a click of a button to “follow” someone (Twitter). Therefore, Twitter is a representation of endless possibilities.  With that being said, what is Twitter compared to all the other social networks.

Twitter v. Facebook

According to Facebook they have over 800 million active users, which is humongous compared to the Twitter community (Zuckerberg).  However there is an issue regarding identity when it comes to Facebook. Chris Poole, founder of 4Chan and Canvas, talks about this idea of identity at the Web Summit 2.0 2011.  Poole stated, “The portrait of identity online has been painted in black and white. On one hand you have Facebook… Facebook purports that you have one identity… Who you are online is who you are offline.” Identity is a crucial part in one’s Internet presence and it shouldn’t be limited into one tiny box. An Internet user should be able to have multiple identities. Why can’t John be a scholar and a party animal? Chris Poole says Twitter does a better job of doing this. Twitter being an open forum based formatted social network, one people can be whomever they want whenever they want without their identity being limited. A user can be Jill one minute and Alice then next. Most twitter applications allow you to tweet from more than one account at the same time while Facebook only allows a user to use one account a time.

If Twitter is as Chris Poole says, “Interest Driven”, how can that attribute be beneficial to strengthening the world’s media literacy? Twitter can be used for education because twitter enables people to share information and research and converse with people in communities but there is also some downsides too.

Tweets from the Wise

Contrary to most people’s beliefs, Twitter is not just based solely on meaningless rants and updates on what a user does every single minute. People send meaningful tweets to enlighten followers, pass along information and promote their own works of literature and research. Twitter has a well-educated community and if utilized it can be very valuable for students. According to a 2010 study, 30% of Twitter users have their Bachelor’s Degree while only 19% United States’ population has graduated a four-year college.  Advanced degrees are held by 17% of the Twitter community, which is 4% more than the total population (Rubin).

Twitter’s well-educated community makes it easier for students to have primary resources at their disposal.  Since Twitter is “interest driven”, based upon what students are want to gain more knowledge in especially with there studies, they can follow professionals in the field. Professors, Research Analysts, Doctors, celebrities, CEOs of fortune 500 companies all tweet on Twitter.  These professionals usually answer questions and provide information via Twitter and sometimes are even willing to network with other users. As a Twitter user I have connected with many different professionals that have helped me with my career either through mentorship or providing useful information to help me with my journey to success. Using “trending topics” and the search bar feature on Twitter can help you find these professionals.

Is Twitter being used to market education?

-The answer is yes. What school has the better programs? Who has the most known professors in their fields? What is going on around campus that can benefit you as an individual, a student and/or a professional?  Twitter is used to market to a specific community of people, which in this case is education. This can help the education world however. If people want there most recent works known and recognized they will post it on twitter but people will build upon that research or discoveries and it becomes and a constant state of evolution regarding knowledge.

Research Project using Twitter

Twitter is a good research tool and is just as good as Google or any other search engine.  The reason behind it being so useful is that the majority of the time you are receiving the information that you are seeking from the actual creator. Twitter also allows users to stay current and up to date via the constant updating streams of tweets. So those long nights in the library conducting research for projects and essays are now over for students with the use of Twitter. To gain a better idea of how to use these features to your advantage check out the video tutorial instructing how to use trending topics and the search bar on Twitter.

Twitter in the Classroom

Twitter has been integrated into many schools from Secondary to Higher Education demonstrating that social networking sites can be used for more than fooling around.  In 2009, more than 30 percent of professors reported that they have used twitter in some type of capacity and this usage is being transferred now into the classrooms and lecture halls (Science Letter).

Universities like Purdue, Harvard, University of Texas, Temple, Stanford are including Twitter in their educational practices. Temple uses it briefly in Renee Hobbs’ course called New Media Literacies exploring whether or not Twitter is valuable to scholastic research and accurate current events. Students in the Fall 2012 class found that Twitter can provide research information and facts current events but some searches can get saturated with opinions. Other Schools use if for other educational uses for inside and outside the classroom.

At Purdue University, they have created a homemade Twitter application “HotSeat”. This Twitter application allows students to long in anonymously and post questions. Students are able to log on via laptops and cellphones in class. Sugato Chakravarty is teaching one of two of the courses using HotSeat. He noted that 75% of the students use HotSeat when it is not even required (Young). Students tend to be afraid to ask questions in front of their peers because of the fear of being ridiculed for asking they think is a “dumb” or “obvious” question. Those are the questions that usually the majority of the class has to ask too. This benefits everyone because no one will fill singled out or pressured and everyone will receive vital information off of other people’s questions. The University of Texas-Dallas uses Twitter for similar reasons. Professor Monica Rankin uses it in here classroom to encourage students to participate (Miners). Students who wouldn’t normally engage in class discussion are able to do so now with the help of Twitter.

With a widespread of Universities using Twitter, High Schools are starting to follow suit. Milford High School is using social media inside and outside the classroom recognizing the fact that the world is becoming a mediated one.  Principal Eric C. Sheninger said, “I used to be the administrator that blocked every social-media site, and now I’m the biggest champion. (Davis)” This demonstrates the benefit to administrators and instructors because they remain aware of the constant evolution of media technology, which in essence keeps them media literate. Twitter has gotten the school partnerships, sponsorships and recognition through networking and progress with the students using it as well (Davis).

Twitter has represented progress in the classroom.

Twitter is an Evolving Cluster of Discourse Community

The use of Twitter in education not only helps users become media literate but places users different discourse communities. James Paul Gee discusses literacy and the idea of “Discourse Community”. Gee says, ‘Think of discourse as an “identity kit”…’  Discourse is a:

“a socially association among ways of using language, of thinking, and of acting that can be used to identify oneself as a member of a socially meaningful group or “social network. ”(Gee 1)

With that being said a discourse community is a group of individuals who has a particular discourse(s) that are the same. Isn’t that why you follow whomever you follow on twitter? These people have the same interest or ideologies. Twitter is full of Discourse communities and they are constantly evolving in which one of them is “Education”, which just happens to be an umbrella for hundreds of others. This is what Media Literacy is all about.

When Twitter Goes Wrong

Although there are many great things that can come out of Twitter being incorporated into education there are some downsides.

-Cyber bullying- Sugato Chakravarty stated that, “students really don’t hold back. If you say something wrong or something that they don’t agree with, they’ll let you know, and everybody else will see it. (Young)” Therefore anyone in a classroom setting is a target. Also Professor Rankin of University of Texas-Dallas had a class discussion about “abortion” and they conversation got out of hand. Rankin described it as “nonproductive” and “nonacademic” (Young). If it would have gotten any worse, who knows what would have been said. This is the real problem: there is no real way to regulate especially when twitter has an open format.

-Cheating- Twitter has been used to cheat in the classroom which agrees with Chris Poole’s Statement that anonymity can be chaotic. In Chakravarty’s classroom, a student tried to use HotSeat to ask for an answer and was caught not realizing that just because students’ tweets and posts were anonymous to each other doesn’t mean they were anonymous to the Instructor (Young). This can cause a serious problem especially in schools were they do not have software made by the school itself for students to use social media.

-Consequences of Marketing in Education- Where do you draw the line? Because Twitter involves Discourse Communities, users can create biases via there works to satisfy a personal/organizational agenda. This can cause one to question whether or not a source that is tweeted is factual.


As Twitter constantly evolves it produces other ways to enhance the student’s experience and the Instructor’s results in the classroom give them further access into education and media literacy.

Works Cited

Davis, M.. “Social Networking Goes To School.” Edweek.org. N.p., 06 1. Web. 9 Dec 2011. <http://www.edweek.org/dd/articles/2010/06/16/03networking.h03.html&gt;.

Gee, James Paul. “What is Literacy”.

Miners, Z.. (2010, August). Twitter goes to college. U.S. News & World Report, 1. Retrieved November 15, 2011 from ABI/INFORM Global. http://www.usnews.com/education/articles/2010/08/16/twitter-goes-to-college-

Ritchie, M.. (2009, April) Chirping about twitter. The Times Educational Supplement : TES,(4836), O18. Retrieved November 15, 2011, from ProQuest Education Journals. http://proquest.umi.com.libproxy.temple.edu/pqdlink?vinst=PROD&fmt=3&startpage=-1&vname=PQD&RQT=309&did=1724044801&scaling=FULL&vtype=PQD&rqt=309&TS=1321409220&clientId=8673

Sarno, D.. “Twitter creator Jack Dorsey illuminates the site’s founding document. Part I.” Los angeles times. N.p., 2009. Web. 6 Dec 2011. <http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/technology/2009/02/twitter-

Rubin, Courtney. “The Truth About Who’s Using Twitter.”Inc.. Inc., 2010. Web. 6 Dec 2011.

Twitter in higher education: More than 30 percent of faculty say they tweet. Science Letter 8 Sept. 2009: 3160. Academic OneFile. Web. 15 Nov. 2011. http://go.galegroup.com.libproxy.temple.edu/ps/i.do?action=interpret&id=GALE%7CA207189329&v=2.1&u=temple_main&it=r&p=AONE&sw=w&authCount=1

“Twitter is the best way to discover what’s in your World.” Twitter. Twitter,Inc, 2011. Web. 6 Dec 2011. <https://twitter.com/about&gt;.

Young, J.. (2010, March). TEACHING WITH TWITTER. The Education Digest, 75(7), 9-12. Retrieved November 3, 2011, from ProQuest Education Journals. http://proquest.umi.com.libproxy.temple.edu/pqdlink?vinst=PROD&fmt=3&startpage=-1&vname=PQD&RQT=309&did=1980047021&scaling=FULL&vtype=PQD&rqt=309&TS=1321409281&clientId=8673

Zuckerberg, M.. “Facebook Statistics.” Facebook. Facebook, 2011. Web. 9 Dec 2011. <http://www.facebook.com/press/info.php?statistics&gt;.


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