Eric Brunsell, professor at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh:
If students organize (with or without instructor help) academic networks with other students in similar classes and programs, they can develop virtual study groups, share resources, and receive and provide support from others. And as their academic network (or personal learning network) broadens to include their professors and experts in the field, they can begin to see traditional course content from multiple perspectives and in real-world settings.
Jenna Gardner, teacher at Meadowcreek High School, Norcross, Ga.:
[One] possibility is to use Twitter as a type of interactive reading response journal. As students read an assigned text, they record their impressions and questions to allow their fellow classmates to give their input. I do this using Edmodo, a microblogging website designed specifically for schools, but students could do it more informally on their own.
William Kist, professor at Kent State University, Kent, Ohio:
Use it as a study group, if all of your class is following each other. In the days leading up to a big assignment, you could have them tweet x number of times or x number of things they've found online.
And there are Twitter-like options for students in communities without easy access to Web technology:
Jim Burke, teacher at Burlingame High School, Burlingame, Calif.:
Part of what Twitter has offered is the concept of communicating in a short note. But you can also give kids an index card and do Twitter in the classroom on paper. So if you're in an underprivileged school district and you want to do what you can in terms of teaching kids how to communicate in short messages effectively, then you're at least teaching the thinking processes.
But the point is not Twitter, because something else will come along to challenge and replace it. It's the various forms of communication students need to master and the knowledge of which one, when, why, and how to use it effectively. Kids in today's world need to be able to communicate the same idea and content in 3,000, 300, 30, 3, 1, and no words (using an image instead) and to do so on a sheet of paper, a computer screen, or a presentation screen, using words, images, sounds, and infographics as needed.