Almost all students initially opposed the integration of Twitter into the classroom. This was not clearly represented in the student response section of the study. However, most students said in later responses that they began to see how it could help them or cited particular aspects (like homework reminders via tweets) that they appreciated.
Twitter is not the ideal writing space for the composition classroom. It does not have the affordances of a blog or even Facebook because it does not allow for any sustained writing. It also is difficult to workshop writing and to peer review writing because of the chaos of tweets that occur at the same time.
Many of the constraints of Twitter are linked to length limit, but there are also certain rhetorical aspects that are limited by the genre. If Twitter use in the classroom requires students to create separate accounts, the audience (followers) becomes controlled. The communication outside of class could be limited to the teacher and peers only. If students only use Twitter when they are assigned homework or for class activities, the purpose is premeditated. This does not encourage invention or creativity.
Twitter perhaps functions most successfully as a way to communicate—its original function. Students seem to appreciate homework reminders; perhaps, when possible, Twitter could be used instead of emails for short reminders. Using Twitter for communication also encourages peer communication outside of class that would normally not take place. It becomes an online meeting space for students to ask questions or ask for help.
In order for the site to function this way, the teacher’s account should be unlocked. This way, students can follow with their personal accounts if they choose or students can simply access the account by URL. (www.twitter.com/teacherhandle)
Some areas of further research also function as limitations of this study:
- Different classrooms and different institutions
This class was partly possible because it was located in a computer classroom (although 18 out of 22 students regularly brought laptops.) The class would have to be approached in a different way if
1. Computers were not readily available, in the classroom or out of the classroom
2. Participants were not familiar enough with Twitter to learn its affordances in a few days or if they did not have literacy sponsors (peers, roommates, etc.) to help them learn
3. The class was comprised of both digital natives and digital immigrants
4. The class was comprised of non-traditional students
- Communication with an outside audience
Students may compose differently if they are communicating outside of an academic space. This communication could include less formal language, but it could also involve code switching. Perhaps encouraging or requiring students to engage with primary sources through Twitter would be a better way to investigate their rhetorical decisions and language use.
- The use of various technologies
Students can access Twitter with a computer, smartphone, or tablet, all which involve different kinds of “typing.” Exploring the composing process on various technologies may reveal different rhetorical decisions students make when communicating in different ways.
- Examination of hashtags
Hashtags are used in a variety of ways, whether to point out an irony, categorize topics, create a community, link conversations, or to make a joke. It is a (sometimes) complicated rhetorical decision, and it would be interesting to see if users fully understood how or why they included a hashtag with a tweet.