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Using Microblogging (Twitter / Yammer)

Twitter is a micro-blogging and social networking service. It enables its users to send and read other users' updates (known as tweets), which are text-based posts of up to 140 characters in length. Updates are displayed on the user's profile page and delivered to other users who have signed up to receive them. Twitter now shows up on news shows like CNN, and was used by the Obama campaign to update followers during the campaign.

Twitter has many potential instructional uses:

  • Twitter can provide mass updates to students
  • Twitter can provide personalized updates to students (direct message)
  • Twitter can provide reminders to students
  • Twitter matches digital learning styles
  • Twitter fosters technological and digital literacy
  • Twitter may encourage collaboration
  • Twitter promotes questioning and answering
  • Twitter can provide a "back channel" communication in class

It can also help you as faculty keep up to date in your discipline

  • Twitter provides instant connection to faculty
  • Twitter provides access to a community

For many, Twitter is their first source for breaking news and help.  One can ask their network a question and get a response immediately.  It can also be a source for learning, with tweets that highlight new information or new services on the web.


Whereas Twitter is a microblogging service open worldwide, Yammer serves the same function within a specific domain, such as @vcu.edu.  By requiring users to possess an email address with our university domain, Yammer provides a private microblogging platform.  You can even set up groups in Yammer for your class.  It can then serve as an instant-messaging service restricted to just the VCU domain.

Virginia Commonwealth University  |  Center for Teaching Excellence
Last updated: 09/22/2009
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