Twitter, the microblogging site that hosts more than 200 million users, has slowly developed into a professional platform. Professionals use it for news-sharing and networking, and university faculty and staff utilize it as a learning tool in the classroom. As the prominence of Twitter as a tool for education and professionalism grows, students across Elon’s campus are recognizing how beneficial Twitter can be in their education and in their future.
MORE: Read about using Twitter in Higher Education
Tweeting for the classroom
Heather Harder, a junior in the communications department, was originally skeptical about Twitter. However, she changed her mind after taking Media Writing, where she was required to tweet about campus speakers and news for class assignments.
“The purpose for [using Twitter for class] was twofold,” Harder said. “We were gaining more experience and learning how to properly use Twitter, and we were engaging in a professional discussion of the topics at hand.”
In addition to Media Writing, Harder’s Writing Technologies course incorporated Twitter in its curriculum. Despite her original hesitation, she now utilizes her Twitter accounts to engage in professional discussions and stay informed about the public relations industry, one she wishes to enter professionally.
Harder may be a supporter of Twitter’s academic purposes, but she does have a warning for faculty and staff who decide to use Twitter in their classrooms.
“It is important to first teach students the proper ways to use Twitter before having them use it,” Harder said. “Twitter can help students learn how the media world works, keep them updated on news and teach the skill of concise writing.”
Tweeting for an organization
Zach Horner, a print journalism major, also sees the benefits of using Twitter in his academic life, but he has found he uses it more in his extracurricular commitments. Horner works for The Pendulum; previously, he served as the organization’s Sports Editor and he still covers men’s basketball games. He found that Twitter became a vital resource for his reporting because he could reach a broader audience faster and he could give his followers up-to-date coverage.
“I tweet out news about the team, analysis about that news, and most prominently live-tweet during games I attend,” Horner said. “I provide updates of the score, analysis of plays and key stats in certain moments. I also try to throw in a little humor in there every now and then. “
Though his position at The Pendulum prepares him for a job in the sports reporting industry, Horner acknowledges that Twitter is playing a huge role in helping him stay current with his journalistic practices. His Twitter account is something that Horner would discuss on a job interview.
“I would definitely talk about it, the live-tweeting especially,” Horner said. “It’s something that a lot of sports reporters use in this age to keep their readers up-to-date on what’s happening with their teams. I would say to my employers, ‘This is something in which I have experience, and I could bring that experience to your organization.’”
Tweeting for an internship
While Harder and Horner are using Twitter to work towards those future jobs, sophomore Natalie Beach utilized her Twitter skills this past summer at her internship. Beach worked as a sports intern at an NBC news station in Baltimore, and her Twitter usage proved more than helpful to her work.
“The executive producer I interned for saw my tweets from an Orioles game over the summer, realized how into it I was and messaged me on Twitter saying, ‘We need to get you a press credential,’” Beach said. “Within two weeks, I had my first press pass and was watching a game from the press box at Camden Yards. My tweets gave me an incredible opportunity.”
Beach has also employed her tweets to stay connected with her co-workers from her internship. Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps has even retweeted her. Beach says she definitely understands why Twitter is important in the professional world, so she actually maintains a second Twitter account for purely professional reasons.
It seems to be the consensus among students: if used correctly, Twitter can be a viable resource in both the classroom and in the real world. The key to success is developing the skills and knowledge to use Twitter now, and honing them before entering the job market.
If you are interested in Twitter and want to discuss ways it could it into your teaching or research, contact Teaching and Learning Technologies at 336.278.5006 or firstname.lastname@example.org.