Twitter Homework?

by Laura Fitton on April 8, 2008

Watching Bentley Professor Mark Frydenberg demo what his Web 2.0 students have been doing with Popfly was a highlight of Tech Tuesday for me this evening. As we chatted later, he told me he’d assigned a Twitter project, but wanted more assignment ideas.

This Twitter experiment and blog post are *my* answer. In the comments, what is YOURS?

I asked Twitter…
Discussing with @checkmark what assignments he could give his students to help them “GET” Twitter. What do you think?

You answered…
chelpixie @checkmark connect with @hrheingold re: assignments to help students understand twitter. Community founder + Stanford instuctor

steketee i would say it is web based IM with controls and ease of finding like-minded people. (twitter)

Peter West suggestion for @checkmark – for a given topic, find knowledgeable people on Twitter & report back on related emerging trends

jpblogger Using the CA fire scenario as an example … how could twitter connect people in a crisis?

Dean Terry also twitter games can be interesting @amyguth & others have talked about a six degrees of separation. Location focus is possible

Rick Wolff There’s no “getting” Twitter. You just get on and ignore the feelings of foolishness, and suddenly one day, it makes sense.

Dean Terry we use twitter in our Emerging Media program. Have students do a class where they only communicate or write stories via twitter

Scott Monty Have them use and follow people w/in a certain geographical radius, asking locality-based questions : I’ve been using it a year and I don’t think _I_ even “get” Twitter.

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Twila Marie April 8, 2008 at 11:28 pm

I’m with Rick WOlff…”you just get on… and one day it makes sense.”

As an college student, it is INVALUABLE!

Wayne Sutton April 8, 2008 at 11:53 pm

Twitter homework, well that’s one way to encourage the youth movement on twitter.

I think I get twitter, so here are a few homework examples I would give them.

1. Use twitter to plan an afterschool meetup.
2. Create a twitter keyword list
3. Have them follow 10 random people and get advice on micro-blogging.

I know there are other ideas, I’m going to post this to the twitter community and see what they say.

I’m @waynesutton on twitter and I have some twitter homework

Matt Herzberger April 9, 2008 at 12:03 am

Come up with a way to use twitter to change the world. I wrote a post about it this morning. I talked about how you can use twitter to change the world, make money and learn new thing @mherzber

GeekMommy April 9, 2008 at 12:52 am

I’m with Matt on this one.

I’ve seen some amazing things happen thru Twitter… like the Frozen Pea Fund, raising donations for “missions” and other charities, helping out in personal ways (like funding an engagement ring thru art sales? brilliant)

I’d put it to them to figure out how to use the power of community building on twitter to make a difference on a bigger scale.

Laura Fitton April 9, 2008 at 1:03 am

These are great, folks, keep them coming. I’ve also been told that Twitter is My Village and Shel’s Interview are helpful as intros, and I think Lee Lefever did a great job with this video

Dr Stephen Dann April 9, 2008 at 1:49 am

I’m using twitter in my lab sessions for my e-marketing class – one, because it’s a world of less hurt to tweet the URL than say it. Plus, I’ve set a blog as an assignment, and one of the blog plan items requires a 140 character description of the blog, and 99% of the class said “What a twitter?”.

I was the other 1%

I’m also being lazy and using my class blog (aka the one I run for the class) to outline lab session exercises, and tweet various bits of advice throughout the session.

Linda Sherman April 9, 2008 at 9:17 pm

Good post Laura

@Scott Monty – Thanks for

Rachel Happe April 14, 2008 at 2:48 pm

This is a great post Laura.

My suggestion: Find a TwitterPack about something of interesting to you and participate for 30/60/90 days. At given periods count how many:
- People you have conversations with
- People you follow
- People who follow you
- People you have met in person
- Number of ideas you have gotten and applied to your area of interest in some way (use conversations to track this).

The change over time would be interesting.

Christine April 15, 2008 at 4:31 pm

I consider Twitter:
1. A mini blog. After all, it is supposed to be about what I am doing.
2. A community, where I can connect with others, talk about things I like, have others comment.
3. A great tool for organizing people – at events it is like text messaging, but broadcasted to all of your followers. So you can easily tell 20 people to meet you at the restaurant on the corner at 8pm.

The change since I first Twittered in October, 2006 is pretty interesting to see how it evolved. At first, it really was just chatter about what people were doing at any given moment.

Shari McConahay April 15, 2008 at 4:45 pm

Twitter is definitely something that should be studied in many different ways. It is a useful tool for communicating online and is evolving daily. I am sure that it would be an interesting homework topic for students of any kind, not just marketing. A statistics view could be done: how many people twittering at once, how many people using same topic, etc. The possibilities are endless, really! And with all the Twitter related web sites out there and growing each day, who knows what’s next? I love my Twitter community and look forward to communicating with them each day. I have gained a lot out of Twitter in contacts, information, friendships – oh and links too!

Paul W. Swansen April 27, 2008 at 8:51 am

You need to have them get out their phones/laptops and tweet. Best teaching is by hands on doing of what you’re teaching.

Rick Wolff April 27, 2008 at 11:43 am

Another metaphor for a certain phase of my Twitter experience (which I hope gets read here, but I will post elsewhere later).

Picture yourself with a half-dozen people whose posts you’re following. You and they are in this small and sparse room, with walls just thick enough to conceal other Twitter denizens behind them and what they’re saying, but not so thick that you can’t bust them down. You await a good reason to. Perhaps at first you don’t realize you can, or are allowed to. (You are.) The room has no ceiling, but above you, standing on a beam, is someone (who in reality is as bemused about all of this as you but just has a longer experience than you) can see from his vantage point into your room and many adjoining rooms. One day, you notice this person is having an interesting conversation with someone in a room next to you, but you only get his half of it. In order to get the whole gist, you must break down that particular wall, so you do. Now your room is bigger, and includes more people to talk with, but in a way you can control, and with people you choose.

Soon, on the timeline you’ve built with people you’re following, you hear someone going on about some topic. Later, you hear someone else ask about the same topic. And it occurs to you: while you’re following both of them, neither one knows about the other, because everyone’s following roster evolves differently. You, being the helper you are, tell the second person about the first person, as an introduction.

And before you know it, YOU’RE THE PERSON ON THE BEAM, with the vantage point of many other people’s little rooms. And you see that those rooms need to exist, or you’d have the noise of a crowded auditorium (just take a peek at the public timeline). But everybody gets a chance to have that overhead vantage point from time to time.

Darwin Stephenson April 28, 2008 at 12:43 pm

Twitter is as Twitter Does.

The biggest issue with any sort of blogging is getting over the hangup that what you’re doing doesn’t warrant being published.

And what you’ll find when you Twitter is that the very nature of microblogging is to communicate. What you’re doing right now is of interest to someone who follows you.

Ah, first time Twitter user? Yes, you need a following. Much like a political campaign with no supporters. So to Twit requires that you follow:

1. Go and seek out interesting folks to follow. I surely would not be on that list. But if you must I’m digitaldarwin.

2. Recruit and Twit. Go get your circle of friends and colleagues to use Twitter. At least during your homework assignment.

3. See what trends you can find with what people twit (is this a verb?). Check out TweetScan and see who else tweets about things you care about.

Whatever you do, don’t Twitter by your lonesome. There are rumors that you’ll go blind and I heard there was a lone Twitter in Alabama that started growing hair on his palms. Get out there!

Jeffrey Sass April 29, 2008 at 8:49 am

Coinky dinky, over the weekend I wrote a new blog post rehashing 6 posts about Twitter written over the last 12 months, including how Twitter is like an episode of “I LOVE LUCY”:

“Twitter is like the chocolate conveyor belt in I LOVE LUCY. Lots of great treats flying pluck the ones that look sweet!”

You can read them all at

Tweet you soon!

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