Using Twitter in the Classroom

Published in Ethos The Journal of Social Education Victoria Inc. (Vol.25 No.3 Term 3 2017), Ms Anna Curnow, a VCE Global Politics and History teacher, gives insight into how she has incorporated Twitter into her classroom.

Ethos: Which subjects do you teach or have you taught?

Anna: Various combinations of Global Politics, Ancient History, History of Revolutions, Year 11 Politics and History.

Ethos: How and why did you start using Twitter?

Anna: I started using Twitter in 2014, the first year I taught Year 12 Global Politics. My Year 12 students got me started as they helped me set up my Twitter account and showed me how to tweet.

Ethos: How do you integrate Twitter into your teaching?

Anna: I started by following relevant academics and journalists on the various aspects of the VCE Global Politics Study Design. I asked my students to follow me and that way they would see my tweets in their news feed. I also set up a Friday Media Watch class where students are asked to tweet a news story or academic article relevant to what we are studying that week to @AnnaCurnow1. In class, the student has to explain the content of the article and how it is relevant to what we are studying.

Ethos: What has using Twitter allowed you to do in your teaching?

Anna: Twitter has allowed me to be very current in my teaching of Global Politics. From 2018, case studies can only be from the last ten years. That will roll over each year so Twitter will help make my case studies current. It has also enabled my students to be deeply engaged with the material being studied. Social media is their medium and they relish tweeting a relevant viagragen.com report/article/video. They are always on topic!

Ethos: Who do you recommend Global Politics teachers follow on Twitter?

Anna:

  • The New York Times terrorism reporter, Rukmini Callimachi: @rcallimachi She is an expert
  • @WarOnTheRocks is very good for teaching Armed Conflict
  • To keep me optimistic, I follow the @DalaiLama
  • For Arms Control and Disarmament, I like William J. Perry, the former United States Secretary of Defense under President Clinton: @SecDef19
  • For teaching China’s use of power in the Asia Pacific: @ChinaPowerCSIS
  • For a regional grouping: @EUwatchers

Ethos: Is there any other advice you would give to teachers who are thinking of using Twitter in their teaching?

Anna: It takes a while to find the most useful think tanks, reporters and academics to follow, so be prepared to work at it. I also recommend following news organisations from different continents to obtain a good global perspective. I now follow 1,691 Twitter handles and this is probably too many as my news feed can be busy. It is probably time for me to cull those handles that are ‘noisy’ without being useful. Twitter can be time-consuming and a little addictive. Once you are following a number of handles, set a timer to limit the wonderful absorbing experience. Be moderate in how much you re-tweet your students. Initially, I overwhelmed my audience with my posts. I now tell my students, click on one of my tweets only once a day to read the academic article or newspaper report that it links to.

Ms Anna Curnow

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