Web 2.0 and Emerging Learning Technologies/Twitter

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Twitter is a short messaging service that works over multiple networks and devices. In other words, it is a free social networking and microblogging service. People from all over the world have the possibility of following international information or friends’ recent activities through Twitter at the very moment they happen.

How was the idea of Twitter born?

Jack Dorsey, the creator of this incredibly and enormously successful tool, was interested in the idea of knowing what his friends were doing at that right moment. So, he developed the concept with his colleagues and built the first prototype in 2006, founded by Obvious, a creative environment in San Francisco, California. From that moment on, Twitter has grown on popularity, so much so that newspapers such as …

The New York Times calls Twitter "one of the fastest-growing phenomena on the Internet." TIME Magazine says, "Twitter is on its way to becoming the next killer app," and Newsweek noted that "Suddenly, it seems as though all the world's a-twitter." What will you think? //http://twitter.com//

Why is Twitter so popular?

  • The main reason why Twitter has become so popular is its simplicity: people want to be in touch with others in a quick, easy and simple way.
  • "What are you doing?" This is the question for Twitter, and the answers (called tweets) must be under 140 characters in length and can be sent via msn, web, mobile web and instant message.
  • Unlike most text messages, tweets are routed among networks of friends. Strangers, called "followers," can also choose to receive the tweets of people they find interesting.
  • In its short history, Twitter has become an important marketing tool for celebrities, politicians and businesses, promising a level of intimacy never before approached online, as well as giving the public the ability to speak directly to people and institutions once comfortably on a pedestal.
  • In fifteen seconds, you can get an endless list of answers to a simple question. No e-mail message, phone call or website could achieve the same effect.

Teaching and learning possibilities

When planning a lesson, it is well known that students get really involved when the activity is meaningful for them. Many students remember vocabulary for ever when they have worked on a song from their favourite singer or group; or they remember structures because they have enjoyed reading a storybook; or have had fun repeating chants. If they have learnt this in a meaningful context, which is relevant to their personal experience, it is quite possible that the lesson will be profitable for their learning and for our purpose, which is being a facilitator in their construction of the language.

Twitter is a wonderful tool to be exploited in the classroom as a source of the latest information: national or international affairs of any sort, up-to-the-minute information about our favourite artists or our closest friends. It is well known that Technology is quite appealing for youngsters, so why should not teachers take advantage of this? Twitter provides a context for a great variety of activities. Learners can get to know what their favourite people are doing right now or they can follow their activities day after day, and get in touch with them as well! The pleasure of being in touch with their favourite people provides an invaluable opportunity for learning from simple vocabulary to the most popular expressions! The excitement of receiving tags from their idols makes learners feel eager to know more about the language to understand and convey their messages. Twitter facilitates teaching and learning greatly because it is a simple key to the boundless universe of communication.

Example links


Twitter in Plain English

What is Twitter? (In Plain English)


This is a video that explains what Twitter is and its functions.


The Top 21 Twitter Applications (according to Compete)


List of the most popular Twitter applications, based on monthly unique visitor data from Compete.


Tech tools for academics


The author is a teacher who shares great ideas for using Twitter in the classroom.

Twitter for teachers

A collaborative Effort to Teach Teachers about Twitter


Its author says that it is a collaborative effort to teach teachers about twitter.

There are plenty of examples of experiences in different levels of education.