Dunlap & Lowenthal (2009). Horton Hears a Tweet.

Dunlap, J. C., & Lowenthal, P. R. (2009). Horton Hears a Tweet. EDUCAUSE Quarterly, 32(4). Retrieved from http://www.eric.ed.gov/ERICWebPortal/detail?accno=EJ877812

“Still, at the top of their list (as well as prominently featured as an NSSE benchmark), is the idea that good practice encourages contact between students and faculty.” (¶ 11)

“Specifically, social presence refers to the sense of another person as being ‘there’ and being ‘real.’ … sense of social presence is negatively affected by their transactional distance: the space and/or time separation between students and faculty that creates a psychological and communication space where potential misunderstanding can thrive. … Asynchronous, written communication lacks the immediacy needed to reduce personal risk and increase acceptance … ” (¶ 12)

“The typical LMS requires logging in, getting into the specific course’s shell, entering the specific discussion forum, posting a question … and then staying connected to the LMS while waiting for someone to respond — or giving up and moving on to other work, thoughts, and issues. We wanted a tool that would enable us to establish an ongoing sense of being present at the current moment …  The Web 2.0 tool that has helped us achieve this objective more than any other is Twitter.” (¶ 13)

“In 140 characters or less, people share ideas and resources, ask and answer questions, and collaborate on problems of practice. … Educators, specifically, are using Twitter to establish and develop personal learning networks.” (¶ 16)

“Social media researchers like to differentiate between friendship-driven and interest-driven types of participation in social media and social-networking sites. … Twitter is a less bounded, more open networking tool that allows asymmetric relationships.” (¶ 17)

“When using Twitter for instructional purposes, therefore, we are less likely to intrude on students’ personal networking space.” (¶ 20)

“The main reason we selected Twitter over other social-networking options, however, is because of its rapid-response attribute …” (¶ 21)

[Attributed to Thorton, 2009:]

“[Twitter] seems to live somewhere between the worlds of email, instant messaging and blogging. Twitter encourages constant ‘linking out’ to anywhere and, in that respect, is more analogous to a pure search engine; another way to find people and content all over the Net.” (¶ 22)

“This benefit is further extended by additional features: Users do not have to log in to Twitter to receive updates if using an RSS feed. Twitter provides an interactive, extensible messaging platform with open APIs. The read page is the same as the write page, which allows for a more seamless exchange. A number of other applications are available to make Twitter more useful, such as Twirl, TweetDeck, Twitterific, and Digsby.” (¶ 24)

“We did not require their participation … concerns about privacy and their online footprints.” (¶ 27)

[“Guidelines for instructional use”:]

  • Establish relevance for students
  • Recommend people for students to follow
  • Model effective Twitter use
  • Encourage students’ active and ongoing participation (¶ 28)

“… the value of the experience hinges on three things: (1) who you are connected to and with; (2) how frequently you participate; and (3) how conscientious you are about contributing value to the community.” (¶ 29)

“… provided students with a list of professionals who are active, relevant contributors …” (¶ 30)

“We also suggest following relevant professional organizations …, publications …, and companies …” (¶ 31)

“We shared examples of professionally appropriate ways to engage in and with the Twitter community.” (¶ 32)

“We encouraged students to share their knowledge, work, and discovered resources …” (¶ 34)

“… we have found that much of the value people, especially educators, get out of Twitter is derived from the knowledge and resource sharing.” (¶ 36)

“… we believe that if Twitter participation is initiated by a learning need and subsequently driven by learning goals and objectives, then the activity is relevant and purposeful …” (¶ 39)

“… access to our tweets by incorporating an RSS feed–like Twitter widget in our LMS. … we also quickly discovered that students’ Twitter participation led to other notable instructional outcomes.” (¶ 42)

“Twitter engages students in a professional community of practice (CoP). … This helps enculturate them into the community, … Acting as practitioners and using the tools practitioners use to address authentic problems of the domain …” (¶ 43)

“Our thinking about Twitter as an approach to engaging students in the professional CoP has been influenced by Jean Lave and Etienne Wenger’s work in situated learning.” (¶ 47)

“… students learn how to guide and direct their online footprint in ways that highlight and showcase their professional qualities and value.” (¶ 48)

“… for time-sensitive matters … alert us to issues that needed our attention and action. … Twitter allows us to maintain ongoing professional relationships with students and alumni.” (¶ 51)

“… it can also be effectively used in on-campus courses and in-person settings. Two strategies that work well are back-channeling and polling.” (¶ 55)


“… the feedback listeners share — without interrupting the speaker — related to their developing understanding and appreciation of what is being said …” (¶ 57)

“A number of different Twitter polling tools are available, such as twtpoll, Poll Everywhere, and StrawPoll.” (¶ 61)

“… think-pair-share activities … fosters student engagement by providing a clear structure for students to reflect, discuss, and self-assess.” (¶ 62)

“We selected Twitter because it: Allows for the just-in-time, free-flowing connection between and among students and faculty needed to support student engagement …; Helps students build relevant PLNs that support their learning and professional development while enculturating them into the professional CoP; Encourages students to reflect on what they share publicly … to establish a professionally appropriate footprint; Allows us to continue our connections with students long after our courses end.” (¶ 65)

Selected references

  • Chickering, A. W., & Gamson, Z. F. (1987). Seven principles for good practice in undergraduate education. AAHE Bulletin, 3-7.
  • Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes. (M. Cole, V. John-Steiner, S. Scribner, & E. Souberman, Eds.). Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.
  • Messner, K. (2009). Pleased to Tweet You: Making a Case for Twitter in the Classroom. School Library Journal, 55(12), 44-47.
See this page at https://kinasevych.ca/index.php