The first time I ever asked someone what Twitter was all about, I remember she told me something in the lines of “Oh, it is about your life in 140 characters”. I was not impressed. Back in 2008, when I first heard about this website, I did not see the need of opening an account, as I was already using Facebook, and I could not grasp the difference between them. Four years later, I have tweeted three different hashtags and it appears that I count with four followers. Except Twitter keeps me informed. In real time. An anonymous community which tags world events and makes them trendy worldwide. I do not follow my friends on Twitter. I do not think they know that I have a Twitter account. I do follow dozens of newspapers, magazines, teaching websites, actors, city mayors, national prime ministers, political parties, rock bands, chess players, film directors… To my mind, the so-called 140 characters are typically an excuse to share a hyperlink, which will take the user to a related news, then to another interesting website, and so forth. This is the way I personally use this tool, and I think that I had underestimated its communicative potential. So why not using Twitter in class?

In spite of being accused of having short attention spans, according to Nicole Melander, students do not like Twitter (based on the concept of microblogging) and prefer blogging instead. However, I tend to believe that the preference for a given tool may be related to the meaningfulness of the tasks associated with it, rather than with the tool itseif. Some interesting insights of the use of this site in class are shared by David Parry, being the idea of plugging Twitter to your telephone what I find the most powerful one.

At least for a very first classroom experience with this technology, I would keep it simple and  stick to the creation of a class Exquisite Corpse based on a top-ten trending hashtag: Teacher may select a topic based on class votes/interests and tweet the first phrase of the story including a hashtag known by every member of the class to keep everybody connected. Students would continue the story building on the last line revealed on a “first come, first served” logic, until everyone has participated. The story may be brought to the class for further analysis/feedback/follow-up activity.

Tim Burton‘s tweet-based story is a fun one.