To Blog or Microblog?

Many teachers are very familiar with and involved in maintaining blogs for their classrooms and students.  However, the advent of microblogging through platforms like Twitter can enhance or simplify your blogging habits!  Read how!


What is Microblogging?

We recently wrote a post that explored the in’s and out’s of Twitter for teachers.  If you haven’t had a chance to read that yet, we recommend you start with that article first!

Microblogging, according a journal at the University of Stuttgart, can be explained in the following definition:

“Social networking and microblogging services such as Twitter, Facebook, or Google+ allow people to broadcast short messages, so-called microposts, in continuous streams.” [source

So, while Twitter is not the only microblogging platform (see article that compares 10 others), we will be referring to Twitter as our main classroom tool for the purposes of this article.

How Microblogging with Twitter Works

Microblogging for your class can be very effective in conjunction with a classroom blog as it gives you a place where students can access your feeds, links, etc.  However, that does not mean additional efforts–in fact, this approach will likely save you precious blogging time!

If you already keep a classroom blog to post pictures, homework, and general tidbits about what’s happening at school, chances are that you have experienced difficulty in posting content consistently or on the same day the pictures, activities, and videos actually happened.  It may be easy enough to snap some pictures in the moment with your phone, but those can be easy to forget in the shuffle at the end of the day–and even when you do remember, it can be tough to scrounge up the time to upload your photos to your computer and then a new blog post, complete with a description!

Instead, consider how the above situation changes with the tool of Twitter microblogging:

  1. Open your Twitter app on your mobile device
  2. Next to “What’s Happening,” snap your photos within the app
  3. Add a quick, 140 character phrase describing the discovery, instantly creating a feed that looks like this (thank you for sharing, Catherine!):

If you don’t have a classroom blog, you can simply give parents and students your handle (@_____) and have them follow you with their own Twitter accounts (and for this reason, we highly recommend that you keep a separate Twitter account for your classroom than for your personal use).  If you do have a blog, then you can further spread the word by using a widget to upload your Twitter feed to your blog homepage, which can be especially helpful in reaching those who don’t have Twitter accounts! Below are steps to create your widget:

  1. Click on the Settings icon at the top right corner of your Twitter page.
  2. Select “Widgets” from the menu on the left-hand side of the page
  3. Create and personalize your widget.  There are several choices for what your feed will reflect.  One option is to display posts for a specific hashtag (especially perfect if you have created a unique class hashtag that you include in each of your Tweets!):

Twitter feed--#pypchat

If you have a class Twitter account, you could also display your own feed.

Once the widget is created, inserting it into your blog varies according to your platform.  Click here for a great WordPress tutorial!  For others, you may need to copy and paste the widget code into the HTML of your site–many have an HTML widget you can insert for this kind of purpose!

When to Blog or Microblog

→Blog

  • Giving instructions
  • Explaining a project
  • Sharing reflections
  • Sharing any media you want embedded into your blog (ie, Prezi, video, etc.)
  • Reminding students of several upcoming events (perhaps in a list)
  • Posting archived Tweets or entire class Twitter debates that you don’t want to get lost in the shuffle (Storify is a great resource for this kind of archiving!  See this article for ideas on how several educators make use of this!)

→Microblog

  • Sharing student lightbulb moments, questions, and discoveries
  • Sharing short reflections on student–or your–learning
  • Giving quick reminders of individual assignments or events
  • Posting pictures and videos you take in class
  • Sharing links to any media or websites that have the Twitter share icon (which is just about anything!)
  • Sharing (and actually having) Twitter debates–just remember to have students include your unique class hashtag in each of their tweets!

This combination can make for a powerful and efficient solution to reaching parents and students effectively, but remember to work for a balance that will maximize and save your precious time!

Photo Credit: Kārlis Dambrāns

Sources:

1. Lohmann, S., et al. (2012). Visual Analysis of Microblog Content Using Time-Varying

Co-occurrence Highlighting in Tag Clouds.

Published by

Mary Wade

I taught 5th grade at a PYP International Baccalaureate school in Utah for 4 years, and am currently on extended parental leave until my kids start school. In between the roller-coaster adventures of motherhood, I enjoy educational blogging so I can stay in the loop and keep learning! Snapshot favorites: Student voice & choice. Twix bars. Global classrooms. Calvin & Hobbes. Outlandish sewing projects. Teachers learning from teachers. Modeling daring to students.

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