Who Will the Students Follow on Twitter?

NCTE_Twitter
The idea is that my students will follow tweeters within a topic that interests them. This worries me in that I’m sure I’ll have lots of Yankee fans who will automatically want to follow the team’s outfielder and frequent tweeter, Nick Swisher. I don’t object to students following Swisher, but as far as the class goes, I want the students to ask themselves a few questions:

  • Why am I a student at St. John’s?
  • What am I interested in learning about?
  • What are my intellectual curiosities?
  • What’s my plan when it comes to the reading and writing I will do in this class?

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Given those questions, who do the students think they should follow? If the student aspires to be a Yankee beat reporter, then maybe Nick Swisher is perfect. If the student hopes to work in finance or publishing, perhaps they should find someone else to follow.

Take for example a former student of mine who is a speech pathology major. While getting ready for a panel discussion, she and I happened on wondering about putting “speech pathology” in the Twitter search box. Among the screen full of tweets that contained the phrase from the past few hours of tweets, we saw a posting by a speech pathologist about a job opening in her office. This is not the first time a student and I have stumbled mostly by accident onto something that works well. When this happens, I try to take notice and organize an environment where this good thing is more likely to happen. Because of this particular moment with a student in my office, I want to have students identify tweeters in their area of interest and see what they find. I know they will find something. Maybe more of them will find leads on an internship or job opportunity.

I know from experience that when I tweet and read tweets, I find many teachers using technology in interesting ways. I imagine if I was a basketball coach, I’d find coaches tweeting about game strategy. Well, I don’t have to imagine too hard: St. John’s University’s own Coach Lavin is a regular tweeter. I’m confident that a student writing about studying abroad could find other students tweeting about a similar experience. Do you see any potential problems with this? Do you have ideas of your own for using Twitter in the classroom?
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