tfws14 twitter assignment

About the Assignment (Updated April 8, 2014)

Blogging is when people publish their ideas for a (mostly) unknown audience in posts of any length. Twittering (or micro-blogging) is when people publish their ideas in a much shorter format to a known audience. The Twitter tweet (the name of each post) is 140 characters long. Just as with blogging, one cannot fully grasp the medium without engaging with it. So, we are going to engage it over the course of the semester as use it, first, as a way to engage our readings outside of class and, second, connect to people who are in fields or have a general interest in areas relating to our research project. These connections will lead us to learning more about our topic from more diverse means than we could have ever thought. It will also provide us with the opportunity to interview someone associated with our professional interests.

Getting Set Up

Part 1: Live-Tweeting Class Discussion and the Readings

Starting the 2nd week of the module, each class period will have several students assigned to live-tweet the class discussion. The goal here is to try to take what is said in class and bring it to the online space where others, including those in class, can engage that discussion. Often these discussions diverge from what is happening in class, and that is fine.

When live-tweeting, you can tweet:

  • quotes that people (including @billwolff) said
  • thoughts or comments about what has been said (funny snark is okay; mean snark isn’t)
  • links to things associated with topics being discussed (such as videos, photos, articles, etc)
  • @mention the authors who we are discussing to let them know we’re discussing them and what is being said
  • other fun stuff

Be sure to use the #tfws14 hashtag. Though others in the class should join in the conversation, but we want to be sure this discussion doesn’t take away from the FTF discussion.

One or two additional students will be assigned to make a live-tweet Storify that represents what happened that day in class and then share it with the class via a blog post and on Twitter.

I’d also like you to start live-tweeting as you are doing the work for the module. That is tweet about what you are reading about. These can be quotes that intrigue you or just thoughts about the texts. Be sure to use the #tfws14 hashtag. Try to limit tweets like, “This article is boring. #yawn,” as such tweets will make to look foolish and show little thought about the text itself. You should @reply to other class members frequently so that we can begin discussions about the work outside of the classroom and then continue those discussions when we meet in the classroom. Add the #tfws14 hashtag to all “live tweets.”

There is no required number of tweets to tweet as your readings, work, or in-class discussions, but it is expected that each should garner many tweets. The more you tweet the more engaged the class can and will become in a dialogue outside the class. Do, however, be sure to make it clear what you’re reading, working on, or discussing. This can be done in the content of the tweet or by using a hashtag for an author’s name (such as #bolter)—you can even search to find the author’s Twitter username and add it to your tweet. This is important because we want to be sure we know which text you’re tweeting about.

Live-tweeting works most effectively when students begin discussing the texts online. And, as one student recently wrote in a reflection on their work:

Part 2: Tweeting from Everywhere but Twitter (#tfebt)

Starting the second week of class, I’d like each student to tweet links to 7 different articles, blog posts, or other writings per week, that in some way discuss, cover, illustrate, or further the ideas we are talking about in class and/or the subject of your blog. The whole article does not have to be on the subject of the technologies of writing or the subject of your blog; rather, it can be tangentially related. These tweets should contain the hashtags #tfws14 and #tfebt. There are five main goals for this part of the Twitter assignment:

  • to show the immediacy of the topics were are discussing in class


  • to engage with the class ideas outside of class



  • to help make the module a space where we share ideas found online



  • to provide links from which students can blog and/or add to their ecology



  • to see how apps can work for you



To find your articles to link to, (if you have a smartphone or tablet) I’d like you to start with Zite. Zite is an awesome little app that allows you to choose your interests. Once you choose them, every time you open the app, new articles relating to your interests will appear. If you find one you like, you can tweet it, sent to Pocket, email it, text it, and so on. Very powerful for moving information from one place to the other, storing it for later, and sharing it with peers. I’ve been using it daily for months, and find it invaluable. The most interests you have the better, and the more you share stories the more those kinds of stories you get. It’s all very well conceived. If you don’t have a smartphone or tablet, a web-based alternative you can use on any computer is Prismatic. It works similarly to Zite: you choose interests, and once you do every time you log in, new articles relating to your interests will appear. If you find one you like, you can tweet it, email it, and share on Facebook. It does not yet connect to Pocket, which is unfortunate. Once we learn Pocket and Feedly, I’d like you to start sharing links from those sites, as well. Though we are not discussing them in the module, you might also consider setting up  a Google Email Alert for one of several topics that interest you and/or set up an account at IFTTT and create a recipe for when certain topics appear so you can be alerted when something is published.

Part 3. Engaging with your Future Professional Community

Twitter is an excellent medium for expanding your professional community, and to engage with people in your future field. Future employers are going to expect you to know how use Twitter for professional purposes so this is an opportunity to start doing that. For this part of the assignment:


  • those who are pursuing careers in Education, you might start by following Jon Becker, Assistant professor of educational leadership at Virginia Commonwealth University, and Suzanne Tiedemann, Art Teacher in South Brunswick NJ. Look through their list of followers and who they are following. Follow people and organizations and go from there



  • those pursuing careers in another field (writing, journalism, etc.) locate the authors you like (and others in the field) via Google search, look through their followers and who they are following. Follow people and organizations and go from there.



  • try to start following at least 10 new people per week in your field (the more you follow the better)



  • each week, engage 3 – 5 people (or organizations) in your field in a conversation by @mentoning  or @replying—if they don’t reply, that is fine. If they do, be sure to reply back. Ask interesting questions, comment on something they have posted, show interest in learning more about what they know
    • for conversations that last a bit, archive it with Storify, which I’ll show you in class





  • do not use the course hashtag for these tweets unless you mention the class



  • do not contact people and say it is part of an assignment; contact them because you are interested, not because you have to




Required Blog Post due by 2/13 (module 1), TBD (module 2),  TBD (module 3)

Compose a blog post in which you discuss one conversation you had with someone in your professional field. Describe how you found them, why you chose to @reply or @mention them, and embed the Storify conversation. In your post, also think about what this kind of conversation says about the boundaries between people today. This post will be in addition to your 6 total required blog posts.

On Twitter @replies and RTs



The @reply is the oldest of the user-created functions of Twitter (when Twitter was released it didn’t have the @reply). Twitter has made the functionality of the @reply quite complex but here are some samples to help us along the way: When you @reply to a follower (or click the “reply” arrow under a tweet) the tweet will only be seen by those who follow both you and the person you are replying to:

If, however, you have something you want to say that you think that Tom and all your followers would like to see, there are several options:



These tweets, however, will not be seen by all of Tom’s or any of the @mention’s followers. If you’d like those people to see the tweets, you can either cc all of them by going through the follower list (a pain in the neck) or politely ask the person to retweet (RT) the tweet to their followers:


Retweet/RT/MT/Retweet to Followers

You will see retweets in your feed in a variety of formats as different Twitter apps employ different means of retweeting. The web site asks if you want to “retweet to your followers,” which just forwards on the tweet and adds a little icon letting your followers know it has been retweeted. To retweet a tweet to your followers, all you do is click the little retweet link under the tweet in your timeline. A pop-up window will appear asking you, “Retweet this to your followers?” Then click Retweet. This functions allows users to filter the kind of information they send forward. retweet to followers Some tweets will have an RT in front of it. The RT was created by the users; though it’s functionality has been abandoned by Twitter many of the Twitter apps still use it because the users like it. It allows you to comment before the tweet so you’re not just forwarding something on:

Some tweets will have an MT where an RT might go. MT stands for “modified tweet.” This happens when you want to RT a tweet but doing so exceeds the 140 character limit. By writing MT, you are indicating that you changed some of the words in the original but are keeping the original meaning intact:

In other instances you might see a tweet hat has quotation marks around it. This is a retweet that says, basically, that you are quoting a tweet:

All of these options succeed in doing the same thing: taking a tweet from a person you follow and sharing it with all your followers. Use each as needed depending on the goal of your tweet.

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