ETAS learning technologies

ETAS learning technologies blog

What the tweet is twitter?

Posted by Illya on 15 June 2009



In the months of June/July I will spend a bit of time looking at twitter, what can be done with it, and maybe even encourage a couple of you readers to join the club if you haven’t already.

There have been several articles in the newspapers recently which mention twitter and question whether it is the next big thing or just another passing hype. Reason enough to have a closer look!

First, what is it? It is a web-based tool in which you can share up to 140 characters (including spaces) with your followers. And you can follow other people and see what they write. I’ve added my own rss feed on the side and will try to be consciencious and update regularly (also known as to tweet), showing the different ways of use.

How is it used? Well, one of the reasons for all the headshaking as to why it is so popular is that many people use it simply to inform the world of what they are doing at any single moment. It seems to many that this is very voyeuristic and more like a public diary. Probably the most oftenly asked question concerning twitter is :


I asked this myself and thought this is certainly a bandwagon I’m NOT jumping on. However, curiosity got the better of me and now I too am on twitter.

Here are some of the ways it can be used:

  • to find relevant websites that others are tweeting or to share websites with others
  • to give live summaries (using a cell phone) during conferences or other such events. – this is becoming more and more frequent, even among politicians in meetings or during football games!
  • to get advice and information. You can send out a call for help and if there are many people following you, the chances are pretty big that someone will be able to help out.
  • to share bits of information with others. You can make groups and share information within these groups, but more on how to do that later.
  • to keep in touch with colleagues from all over the city/country/world, forming an occupational network. An example of what a great resource this is can be seen when Susan Boyle was in Britain’s got talent. Within a week there were lesson plans for how the youtube video and her experience could be used for language lessons!
  • to share what you are doing while you are on holiday. If you have a blog or website, you can add the rss feed (see blogging 101) and your students, friends and family can be informed – a continuous postcard!
  • to get your students to write. 140 characters aren’t many and a certain amount of skill is needed for language learners to be eable to express themselves clearly in so few words. It can be used for creative writing or for summaries. Obviously, they need to be on twitter too, but you can do twitter virtually (in this case, on paper :-D)

I’m not the only one who has written about twitter. A very good article is on Larry Ferlazzo’s blog. He also goes into depth, and I’m sure there will be quite a bit of overlap, but I’ll also try to give examples in the next couple of posts.

If you’ve decided to join and check it out, feel free to follow me too. I’m illyac. Let me know that you are from ETAS so I don’t end up blocking you, and I’ll gladly follow you too! If there are enough ETAS members on twitter, then I’ll set up a twitter group later on. And remember, the more people you follow, the more useful it will become to you.

Tweet tweet 🙂


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