Learning to Tweet and Tweeting to Learn

Concurrent Session 7

Session Materials

Brief Abstract

This presentation will focus on the use of Twitter in the classroom for students to engage with peers, others in the field, and with course content. Student survey results and professor reflections will be shared; feedback and suggestions from others who have implemented similar assignments is desired. 


Dr. Elissa T. Mitchell is an Assistant Professor of Social Work at the University of Southern Indiana where she teaches both undergraduate and graduate students in online, hybrid, and face-to-face courses. She earned her Ph.D. in Human Development and Family Studies from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Dr. Mitchell's research is broadly focused on at-risk youth and their families, particularly those affected by foster care and adoption, divorce, and domestic violence. She is also focused on online teaching and learning, specifically in the use of social media, online debate, and incorporating service learning in online courses.

Extended Abstract

This presentation will focus on the use of a Twitter assignment in two social work courses and present survey results from students who completed this assignment. Increasingly, agencies and organizations are using social media as a way to promote their causes, raise awareness, and educate (Guo & Saxton, 2014). As future social workers, students may be asked to engage in social media as part of their jobs, or may wish to engage on their own promoting social justice or raising awareness of a certain cause (Guo & Saxton, 2014; Hitchcock & Young, 2016). Thus, the purpose of the assignment was to help students practice using social media for professional purposes. A sub-goal of the assignment was to increase students' engagement with their peers, others in the field, and with course content by having them tweet stories, links, and resources that related to class materials.

The presentation will cover the assignment guidelines, discuss how the assignment (and, in some cases, Twitter itself) was introduced to students, and talk about future adaptations to this assignment based on this experience. Summary data from a student survey also will be presented, examining student engagement on Twitter (both before, during and after this assignment), student learning outcomes from this assignment, and student satisfaction with the assignment and with the use of Twitter as a professional means of communication. The presentation is aimed at faculty/instructors who may be considering using Twitter in the classroom, instructional designers and other technology support staff who may work with faculty, and those who are generally interested in the use of Twitter for professional purposes. It will focus on student outcomes and satisfaction and will generate discussion on how this assignment could be adapted for use in other courses and disciplines.

This presentation is suited for a Discovery Session as the presenter wishes to directly interact with the audience, soliciting feedback on the assignment, ways it could be modified and/or adapted, and to hear others’ experiences with similar assignments. Outcomes of the session would be for participants to learn a new way to incorporate social media into their classes and for the presenter to generate ideas on ways to improve this assignment to reflect best practice. Further, the survey results will be shared and discussed with the goal of implementing a larger-scale research project on the effectiveness of Twitter in the classroom.

Guo, C. & Saxton, G. D. (2014). Tweeting social change: How social media are changing nonprofit advocacy. Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 43, 57–79.

Hitchcock, L. I. & Young, J. A. (2016). Tweet, tweet!: Using live Twitter chats in social work education. Social Work Education, 35(4), 457-468.