Despite Twitter's popularity with celebrities and media mavens, most reports seem to indicate that teens and young adults are not using Twitter all that much. What have you seen in your classrooms?
And... are you using Twitter in your own classroom? If so, what are you doing and how is it working out for you? Thanks!
I attended many of the social media sessions at a conference of university professors with my husband last August, and they reported that few of their university students had Twitter accounts or were interested in them.
Many of the profs wanted to require students to get a Twitter account and set it up in a professional manner, with a good photo and a "resume goal statement." Stake out their professional image and know that employers will look at what they are doing online.
Based on several sessions I attended, I'd report are the most common instructional use in university classrooms:
- follow companies in the industry you are interested in working in (may have several different feeds to follow from a particular company)
- follow professional associations in the industry you are interested in working in (there's an association for every industry...sometimes several!)
- follow media that cover the industry you are interested in working in (if a teacher, follow specialized media such as Education Week, TechLearning, etc.)
One prof suggested finding a humor or inspirational tweeter to follow to add "uplift" to the twitter feed. Another suggested following a famous person who was coming to campus to speak during the semester, before and after the speech, then attending the speech.
Once students started doing follows, they seemed to start next:
- follow news outlets that cover what they are interested in (sports team, hometown newspaper, hobby)
- follow local companies with specials (free cookie if you order a meal and use this code)
- follow classmates also interested in the same careers
- follow an account at a university where they might want to do graduate study (esp. MBA programs)
- then start retweeting interesting info
One prof in particular said the advice to students was to do a lot of listening and very little original posting until they really had the hang of it, not to be annoying, rude, profane, or hurt their professional image.
Another one said, "Remember that everything you tweet is being saved by the Library of Congress so that scholars can study the messages. Decide whether what you tweet is something you want preserved for posterity."
Another one said that Twitter showed your writing ability...to be concise, grammatical in few words. "Know that employers will look at that and make a judgment about you," he said.
The concept of building a following was really tough for many of the university students, and they didn't think that tweeting what they ate for lunch was appropriate or interesting. The profs said that getting them to listen to lots of key thinkers in the industry they wanted to work in was the best way to immerse them in issues, vocabulary, and ideas that could reinforce what they were doing in class and make them better job candidates. (The two profs who required students to try to get a certain number of followers both had negative teaching evaluations on that requirement.)
Two pointed out how internship possibilities in their field were being tweeted out and encouraged students to look for internships through Twitter.
I hope that those comments from the sessions are helpful!