Getting Started with Twitter

Twitter is a social networking and micro-blogging platform that allows people to post messages called “tweets” which are no longer than 140 characters in length.

It can be a useful platform for disseminating information, communicating in real-time with large groups and having conversations with people. The required succinctness of messages can help to spark creativity and also makes information more digestible. Hashtags, which are preceded by the hash (#) symbol, help to easily keep track of Tweets and conversations of a related nature.

Using Twitter in your module can have many advantages. Some suggested uses include:

Using Tweets as a Study Guide: In-class tweeting with hashtags gives students the opportunity to refer back to what was said in class. If students are having group discussions, consider asking them to tweet relevant points so that they are available for the entire class to view.

Increase Engagement: Some students may feel more comfortable tweeting than speaking out in class, especially in large groups or lectures. Using Twitter can therefore help to broaden student participation.

Lecture Feedback/Discussion: Ask your students to tweet (preferably with a unique hashtag) during your lectures to receive instant feedback or questions about the content you’re delivering. Check the Twitter feed periodically during the lecture and respond to their messages.

Pre-Class Discussion Prompts: Encourage your students to tweet questions or comments on assigned readings or lecture material you may have uploaded to the VLE in advance. Then, use the Twitter stream during your class to generate discussion and answer their questions. This is a great example of flipping the classroom.

Help Students Engage with Potential Employers: Students could start following and connecting with target companies before graduation.

What Do I Need to Get Started?

Here are some simple steps to get you up and running with Twitter. Signing up for an account (step 1) is essential! The other steps are optional, but highly recommended to make the most of it.

  1. Create a Twitter account
    • Go to and sign-up for a free account
    • It might be useful to create a separate account for academic purposes
  2. Post your first Tweet
    • Once you’re logged in, click on the Compose New Tweet button
  3. Start to “Follow” people
    • Twitter allows you to follow other users who may be of interest to you. They could be fellow academics/colleagues, students, professional individuals, professional bodies, companies or other educational institutions.
  4. Invent a hashtag
    • Use a unique hashtag for your module so that you and your students can keep track of
      conversations and tweets related to your module. Simply invent a hashtag that doesn’t already exist, search for your potential hashtag using the search box in Twitter, if no results are returned, you’re safe to go ahead and use it. Consider using your module code as a hashtag. E.g. #pci2020
Add a Twitter widget to your Blackboard module

Publishing a real-time feed of your Tweets of the results of a Twitter search in your Blackboard module can
help to keep students engaged. It also means that students without a Twitter account can still see the
activity related to your module. The results of a Twitter search could be with a hashtag so that all Tweets
related to your unique module hashtag are displayed in the feed.

  1. TwitterWidgetOnce you’re logged in to Twitter, go to the Widgets section of your Settings page.
  2. Click the Create new button.
  3. You’ll then be asked to Choose a timeline source to display in your feed. User timeline will simply display all of your tweets or the tweets of another Twitter user that you choose. Search enables you to configure the feed to show all Tweets based on a search term or hashtag.
  4. Configure the widget by choosing settings such as height, theme and link colour. You can preview the widget on the right-hand side of the page.
  5. Once you have finished, click Create widget. This will generate some code beneath the preview. Copy this code by highlighting it, then right-click and choose Copy.

Now you are ready to embed the widget in your Blackboard module. Login to Blackboard and go to your module. You have two options for embedding the widget:

Option A: As an item in a content area

  1. Navigate to the content area.
  2. With Edit Mode switched ON, move your mouse
    over the Build Content button and select Item
    from the menu.
  3. Enter a Name such as “Latest Tweets”.
  4. In the content editor, click the HTML button. In
    the pop-up window which loads, paste the code
    you copied from Twitter. Click Update. Then click
    Submit. Your widget will be displayed in the content area.

Option B: On a blank page with a link on a course menu

  1. With Edit Mode switched ON, hover your mouse over the plus (+) button at the top of the course menu and select Blank Page.
  2. Enter a Name. This will be the title of the link displayed on the menu. E.g. “Latest Tweets”.
  3. Check the Available to Users box and click Submit.
  4. In the content editor, click the HTML button. In the pop-up window which loads, paste the code
    you copied from Twitter. Click Update. Then click Submit. Your widget will be displayed on the page as a single item.
The Twitter Glossary contains terminology used throughout Twitter and is a useful guide for understanding the different technical terms that are used.