Twitter Revelation Redux

I mentioned in my last blog post that I had an epiphany earlier this week regarding Twitter. I hadn’t put much active thought into it, but I realized that I’ve been assuming communication majors in my classes (and others) were hip to the Twitter thing. I was apparently assuming some inherent knowledge on their part about how it works and how incredibly significant Twitter has become in the ever-expanding field of communication.

I was wrong.

This is not a student problem, by the way. It’s a professor problem. (I’m pointing to myself, here.) I needed to start doing a better job of incorporating Twitter — and other types of social media — into my normal lessons. And I’m not the only one. One of my students (in a different class) told me that her professor had just begun doing the same thing.

So, I built a huge chunk of our recent class time around playing with Twitter. Just a few minutes before class, I recruited my friend and long-time public radio colleague Brett Tannehill to correspond with us. I pulled up my account @ButlerCain and we got to work.

We talked about hash tags, how they operate and even created one for our class. We learned how the “@” symbol functions in Twitter. We talked about “trends,” “replies” and “retweets.” We learned how to shorten links so we can share web content we find interesting or entertaining.

By the time we got moving along, a few in the class had already logged on (it’s a “smart” classroom with computers) and had joined the discussion. Another created a Twitter account right there on the spot and dove in, too. With Brett corresponding on the other end, it was a dynamic and fun lesson.

The most important message I wanted my students to understand, though, was this — even if you don’t care to use Twitter for yourself, your potential internship directors and employers will ask you if you know how to use it. If you aren’t familiar with it, your chances of landing that position start dropping.

Based on feedback from some of my students, they appreciated the lesson. And that’s the whole point of my job.

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