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February 14, 2012

Tweeting in Class – Not Yet

I’ve been on Twitter for close to five years. I joined right after they went big at SXSW March of 2007. In that time I surpassed 24,000 tweets, a combination of personal and professional. But it was a couple of years before I decided to try Twitter in my classes.I’m still not to the point where I will require my students to tweet for class, but I do see value in using it as an alert system. Although I’m not finding many students who are on Twitter already or find following my class account of interest. But it was easy to set up and use, so I continue to do it.

Here’s how I use Twitter in the class. I teach online, so I communicate often with students by posting announcements to the class blog. Previously I’ve used WordPress as the class blog, so it was easy to add a plugin that automatically tweets every new posts on the blog. I figured that if students followed the class Twitter account (@DrCoop for ENG101, @ENG102 & @ENH295), they could get quick updates when I posted a new announcement without having to check the blog. I probably rendered this feature pointless when I set up email subscriptions on the blog as well. Instead of tweets as updates, they can get the actual blog post delivered to their preferred email account. So I get very few takers on my Twitter updates.

But I haven’t given up the idea that one day students will find these Twitter updates useful, so I continue to find ways to keep Twitter automatically updating when I post announcements. Maricopa will be moving to a new LMS next fall, so I’ve been playing around with it and teaching 3 classes in it this semester. Just for fun, I figured out a way to get Twitter to autopost my announcements from Canvas, although this is completely pointless, as Canvas already emails students when you post new announcements. At this point I’m just experimenting for fun, not function. I set up an IFTTT (If This Then That). Basically you can create tasks that happen after a certain trigger (when something happens (this) then do something else (that)). So I set up a “when a new post happens on Canvas then tweet a link to the post.”

It works great, but presently IFTTT only allows for you to connect one Twitter account, so I can only do this for one class. They did tweet to say they would be offering that option soon, but I don’t foresee tweeting in this manner a useful feature of my online classes. Not yet.

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