Topics covered in this chapter include
  • What are IM, chat, Skype, and Twitter?
  • Instant messaging (IM) and chat
  • Skype and VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol)
  • Twitter
  • Educational benefits of IM, chat, Skype, and Twitter
  • Pedagogy
  • Integration of diverse perspectives
  • Connection outside the classroom
  • Special considerations for IM, chat, Skype and Twitter
  • Knowing who you are talking to
  • Institutional policies regarding the use of VOIP
  • Need for working audio and video hardware for VOIP
  • ‘Following’ students on Twitter
  • Invisible audiences on Twitter

For more detail, read Chapter 14 of Using Social Media in the Classroom. A best practice guide.
Twitter basics
  • Compose short messages or 'tweets' of up to 140 characters
  • Tweets are distributed via the Twitter network on the internet
  • Follow others' Twitter streams
  • Tweet privately, block certain followers, and report spam
  • Hashtags are keywords that you give to your tweets to allow others to find your messages. Hashtags always begin with a hash symbol, e.g., #socialmedia
  • If many tweets on a topic suddenly receive the same hashtag, then the topic can be said to be ‘trending

Twitter is suitable for
  • Brainstorming
  • Collaboration
  • Communication and knowledge sharing
  • Feedback
  • Networking

Special considerations
  • See Chapter 14 of Using Social Media in the Classroom for special considerations regarding student use of IM, chat, Skype, and Twitter, including issues relating to invisible audiences, institutional policies regarding the use of VOIP, audio and video hardware, and following students on Twitter.

Ideas for use with your class
  • Use Twitter to continue class discussions outside of school hours.
  • Post advice and generic feedback for students in the form of tweets.
  • Share links and resources via Twitter. Encourage students to share, also.
  • Send out announcements and reminders via Twitter.
  • Ask students to tweet their thoughts, questions, observations, and so on during class. Make sure you use a dedicated hashtag so that you can follow the class’s Twitter stream.
  • Use Twitter for ‘Q&A’s on class topics.

Sites, applications, and tools


Further reading

  • Barone, D. M. and Mallette, M. H. (2013) On using Twitter, Reading Teacher, 66(5), pp. 377–379.
  • Cotton S. R., Shank, D. B., and Anderson, W. A. (2014) Gender, technology use and ownership, and media-based multitasking among middle school students, Computers in Human Behavior, 35, pp. 99–106.
  • Giesbers, B., Rienties, B., Tempelaar, D. T., and Gijselaers, W. (2014) Why increased social presence through web videoconferencing does not automatically lead to improved learning, E-Learning and Digital Media, 11(1), pp. 31–45.
  • Kist, W. (2013) Class, get ready to Tweet: social media in the classroom, Our Children: The National PTA Magazine, 38(3), pp. 10–11.
  • McCarty, C., Prawitz, A. D., Derscheid, L. E., and Montgomery, B. (2011) Perceived safety and teen risk taking in online chat sites, Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 14(3), 169–74.
  • deNoyelles, A., Zydney, J. M., and Chen, B. (2014) Strategies for creating a community of inquiry through online asynchronous discussion, Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, 10(1). Retrieved from
  • Morgan, H. (2014) Focus on technology: Enhancing instruction and communication with Twitter, Childhood Education, 90(1), pp. 75–76.
  • Roseberry, A., Hirsh-Pasek, K., and Golinkoff, R. M. (2014) Skype me! Socially contingent interactions help toddlers learn language, Child Development, 85(3), pp. 956–970.
  • Schwarz, O. (2011) Who moved my conversation? Instant messaging, intertextuality and new regimes of intimacy and truth, Media, Culture & Society, 33(1), 71–87.
  • Varnhagen, C. K., McFall, G. P., Pugh, N., Routledge, L., Sumida-MacDonald, H., and Kwong, T. E. (2010) lol: new language and spelling in instant messaging, Reading and Writing, 23(6), 719–33.