It's Diablogical!
A Collaborative Diablog on Feminist Pedagogy
Teaching with Twitter: Thick and Thin Tweets
Categories: Teaching Strategies

This entry is also posted on my trouble blog.
Ever since I started thinking about using twitter in the classroom (and before I actually used it, which was in fall, 2010), I’ve been following the interesting and innovative work of David M. Silver and his media studies classes at the University of San Francisco. He has a helpful blog that he uses mostly for class assignments. I also follow him on twitter. Yesterday he tweeted to his class about an article that he had written for the Chronicle of Higher Education last May: Twitter Meets the Breakfast Club. He also assigned, via the tweet, another one of his articles from his blog: The Difference Between Thick and Thin Tweets

Here’s his brief description of thin and thick tweets:

thin tweets are posts that convey one layer of information. thick tweets convey two or more, often with help from a hyperlink.

While he encourages students to experiment with all sorts of tweets, he requires that they do thick tweets for his assignments. His blog post offers some great examples and explanations of how thick tweets work. I think this approach might be helpful for enabling students to think more carefully/deliberately about their tweets as forms of communication. I also think his introduction of the assignment, with so many help examples + explanations, is a great model for how to introduce an assignment.

I was struck by something he wrote at the end of his post:

As i wrote above, i encourage my students to use twitter in any way they see fit. but my bias is evident. by requiring them to post thick tweets and by encouraging them to pack multiple layers of information within 140 characters or less, i’m trying to teach my students how to craft creative, meaty, and to-the-point messages that attract other people’s attention.

I wonder, does the point of twitter exercises for class and/or tweets in general, always have to be about “attracting other people’s attention”? What other goals do twitter users have besides attracting attention and sharing information?


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