Twitter in higher education

Posted on: October 29, 2012 | By: Casey Brown | Filed under: Tech Tips


Organizations and individuals of all types use Twitter to communicate and share resources. This overwhelming adoption of Twitter has made it a practical tool for nearly every academic discipline to incorporate into their curriculum. This blog post includes information on who uses Twitter and how to incorporate Twitter into a course.

Who uses a Twitter and why

  • Professors have experimented with Twitter in several ways. Examples include: encouraging students to reflect on course materials outside of the classroom, providing a platform for real-time student questions during class, and sharing resources with students.
  • Students use Twitter to socialize with their friends and organize events. They also use it to shape their online identity, network and search for jobs. Students also used Twitter during the Arab Spring movement to overthrow the governments in Egypt and Tunisia.
  • University staff use Twitter for informal professional development to stay current in their field and to network with other higher education staff.
  • Companies use Twitter to market their product or service, communicate with customers and build their brand.
  • News organizations use Twitter to promote their content and to find sources.
  • Artists use Twitter to promote their work and to network with their peers and fans.
  • Nonprofit organizations use Twitter to market their causes, plan events and build awareness of their organizations.
  • Celebrities use Twitter to connect with fans and promote themselves.

Ideas for use in higher education

Based on your needs, there are a number of ways you can incorporate Twitter into your everyday life, whether it be in the office or the classroom:

  • Incorporate tweets from professional organizations and news sources into your learning management system for a constant flow of timely, relevant news.
    • Examples Twitter accounts of professional organizations or news sources: @AdAge (advertising/marketing),@ChemistryWorld (chemistry), @sociologically (sociology), @AIGAdesign (design), @GettyMuseum (art),@WSJBusiness (Business), @USPhysTherapy (physical therapy), @WWIIToday (history)
    • For a tutorial on embedding a Twitter widget into Moodle, go to (case sensitive)
    • For an example of a teacher using Twitter in this way in the classroom, go to and read about communications professor Randy Piland’s use of Twitter in the classroom
  • Find international organizations that post in their native languages and have students translate posts or compare them to English-language sources.Examples: Twitter accounts for foreign language courses: @spanishbot, @germanlanguage,@SPIEGEL_English, @frenchToday, @franceintheus
  • Students write about course-relevant experiences they have outside of the classroom and label those tweets with a course-specific hashtag (see the definition of #hashtag below). Or, encourage students to retweet news they have found on Twitter and share it with the whole class.
    • Use a hashtag that is unique to your course. Using your course ID is usually a safe bet. For example: #MKT412
  • Students monitor the social media stream for an upcoming event (presidential election, ballot initiative, etc.) or issue and curate the text, videos and photos into a digital story.
    • Storify is a free website that makes it easy to curate web content:
  • Students analyze tweets from marketing firms or brands for examples of social media marketing and customer service
    • Example Twitter accounts from well known companies: @BestBuy, @Zappos_Service, @comcastcares,@Starbucks, @SouthwestAir
  • Students identify and follow known professionals in the field to develop their professional social media network
    • Find scholars, CEOs, writers, activists, and more. Go to and search for the discipline you want to find people. For example, for a list of people who post about “writing”, search for writing.
  • Students collaborate to write a short story where each student contributes 140 characters at a time, known as twittories

For more information on twittories, visit

More resources

For a little more information on how Twitter has been and is being utilized in higher education, we suggest reading these articles:


If you are interested in using Twitter and want some assistance, contact Teaching and Learning Technologies at 336.278.5006 or



Casey Brown

Casey Brown is the Writing Intern for Technology with Elon University's Teaching and Learning Technologies Department.

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