Course Extra Credit Twitter Assignment

less-is-more-791109_1280I am developing an extra credit assignment for my graduate student around Twitter use, and would love some feedback! Any thoughts or suggestions will be appreciated, as I will hope to make this live for them later this week.

Let me give you a bit of context. I plan to adapt this for two different groups of students: graduate nursing students (all of whom already work in health care at this time) and for graduate management & systems students (many of who are looking for a better job or their first professional position). Both groups commonly avoid public social media for professional reasons — they are concerned they may do or say something that could be construed as problematic for their work. I am trying to demonstrate that the contrary is also possible, namely that through curating content and connecting with a professional network they may also improve their professional standing and reputation.

Thus, this extra credit to try to tempt them into using this in a way that may be beneficial and helpful for their work and reputation while also increasing learning opportunities in our courses.

Would really appreciate any thoughts or feedback, either here or via Twitter. Thanks in advance!


Twitter Extra Credit

Purpose: The purpose of this extra credit is to introduce you to some of the professional benefits of using Twitter for content curation, information sharing, promoting a positive professional digital identity / digital citizenship, and communication. This is not intended to be work, rather an opportunity to expand your professional and personal network.

Background: Twitter’s mission is, “To give everyone the power to create and share ideas and information instantly, without barriers.” It has over 320,000,000 active users, including nearly all entertainment, political, religious, and professional bodies who use text-sized posts, called Tweets, to communicate and engage with followers. For our purpose, consider some of those within nursing who use Twitter in a professional way, such as the American Journal of Nursing @AmJNurs, the New York Times Health @NYTHealth, the John A. Hartford Foundation @JHARTFOUND, Carol Porter (Chief Nursing Officer @MountSinaiNYC) @CarolPorterCNO, and even an account specifically created for Child Nursing students at Sheffield Hallam University @SHUChildNursing

How to use Twitter: This is a multi-part assignment that is intended to give you a flavor for some of the benefits and use of using Twitter to learn, ask questions, share questions, and engage with colleagues. More than many other tools, the true value of Twitter is often not understood until it is experienced. This “task” is worth up to 5 points on your final grade.

Read a bit about how to use Twitter:

Extra Credit Assignment: This is a multi-part assignment stretching over at least a month that is intended to give you a flavor for some of the benefits and use of using Twitter to learn, ask questions, share questions, and engage with colleagues. More than many other tools, the true value of Twitter is often not understood until it is experienced. This “task” is worth up to 5 points on your final grade. I am hoping to include the specifics here, discuss them with my students online, and then provide a live demonstration to help some get started.

  1. Create a Twitter account (if you do not have one already). It should be a public account so others can see your Tweets.
    1. It can be anonymous and does NOT have to include your name, though you may find that an anonymous account (such as @TheCoolRNinNYC, without a name on the account) may not be taken as seriously as one where it is really listed as you. However, if you want to be anonymous, please email me who you are so I can follow you.
    2. You can always change your Twitter account name at any time once you start it.
  2. Follow me @JeffreyKeefer and I will follow you back (make sure I know it is you). Tweet any question or comment to at any time, though remember DO NOT INCLUDE GRADE INFORMATION PUBLICLY (cf. FERPA requirements).
  3. Follow our course hashtag: #NURS761
    1. You may also want to find and follow other tags, which are mainly used to help people connect and share with others around a topic (e.g., #nurses or #moocmooc).
  4. Find and follow at least 20 accounts (search for your classmates, people you know, employers, professional associations, friends, programs you like . . . anything! For some non-nursing ideas, I came up with @GameofThrones or ABC7 Eyewitness News or even the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
  5. Reply at least 2x / week to other accounts
  6. ReTweet at least 1 post 1x / week.
  7. Contribute, share, or ReTweet something related to our course, including our course tag #NURS761, at least 1x / week
  8. Send me a summary (public or private via Direct Tweet) of what you did or learned each week.

The drug is really effective for insomnia, if you take a pill, as prescribed by the instructions on ”“.
Full Educational Disclosure: I find Twitter valuable for my personal, professional, and academic work, and intend this extra credit as an opportunity for you to try some of this on for yourselves in a way that works for your own life. Once you start this, you will find this to be the easiest extra credit you were ever offered.



27 thoughts on “Course Extra Credit Twitter Assignment

  1. #hcsm and #hcldr might be hashtags they are interested in. If the nurses want to look at specific areas of nursing, they could look for the hashtag for that illness. Many illness communities have special chats. For breast cancer there is #bcsm and #bccww … they provide good examples of healthcare professionals and patients talking about disease and treatment and such … so there are examples of how healthcare professionals can use twitter safely and effectively.

  2. Hi Jeffrey, last year I tried and failed at persuading my graduate students (colleagues) to post to Twitter but that was my fault in making it completely optional. So you can assign appropriate value to this comment based on that failure! 🙂 I think the tasks of posting to the class hashtag and following classmates are the most worthwhile — people will go into their private interests anyway, so I’d give them some nursing-related accounts to follow for preference, as a starting point.

    You mean Direct Message ?

    1. Thanks, Pennyjw. I gave them a couple to get started, and will add some for the management students as well. I have tried the optional, and while I get most started, few continue. Perhaps that is because they do not have something to help them focus it on?

      Will let you know how it goes!

  3. I’m glad to see you trying this with different groups of students in professional fields. Take this with appropriate sized amounts of salt.

    As is, it is solid, and likely some students will get a decent taste of a twitter experience. Will you be sure this is completely new to all your students? I’d agree with the comment that being extra credit might be an issue for the parts meant to have a community if you only have a small handful of participants.

    However I have to see this feels very “Assignment-y” – it begins with a lot of explanation, reading. I might ask if this bears any resemblance to your own learning experience in twitter. It pretty much asserts that twitter is a Good Thing. I would want to meet the reservations students have right away, and let them know that the idea is for them to find the value in twitter.

    One thing I have learned in teaching media is the value of listening, reading, observing the medium first. When you start with creating an account, you get bogged down in the mechanics. I might start first with asking students to read some twitter accounts (you have a list) and get a feel for the conversation, and how it flows. Or notice how those people interact with others. Who do they follow? How do you choose who to follow? DO you follow just people like you, who you agree with; or is there value in following wide range of people (I have a habit of following a number of people I disagree with often) Or maybe do something in your intro where you invite your PLN to meet your class, ask the students to think what they might say if they could tweet.

    Try to get to the DO part sooner and and the Explain / Discuss later.

    Or if you do start with them making accounts, maybe do not start with trying to so something in nursing. A scavenger hunt. Something with observing the world in words and photos. Heck, tweeting what they had for lunch. Or starting first with talking about and finding other people on twitter with a similar personal interest (movies, baseball, cooking, dogs, etc). Look for something that would matter to them as persons first. If not, they will do things because it’s an assignment and they have to do X per week to get Y points. Different kinds of motivations. Look at the activities Maha Bali

    Later, when you ask them to stuff related to their field, they can grapple with this idea of overlapping (or not) network spaces. Twitter chats might work, or maybe topical issues for them to discuss and research?

    I’m just wild guessing, but if its something just to get some points and tweet 5 times a week, you will get the minimum from a lot of them.

    I could be way over the right field fence; you know your students better than I.

    Oh, on a practical front, if you are building this around your hash tag, before you start set up a Martin Hawksey Twitter TAGS google spreadsheet – this not provides the nifty visualization, but the summary and starts it provides is a usually dashboard for seeing how active your students are.

    Good luck. May the Tweet be with you.

    1. Mr. CogDog, these are all so sensible, and thanks for sharing them. I like the notions of giving some simple, positive examples before all the teaching-stuff, and will tweak this when I revise for them this weekend when I release it. I also like inviting them to do something simple, include some of the multimedia that integrates so nicely in Twitter. Great food for thought, and most appreciated.

  4. A few other comments that were shared outside of here that I want to include in the revision are:
    1. Ask their practice or research focus and search for related hashtags
    2. Clarify RT as something related to the course (a to also include the course tag)
    3. Consider adding a video link or so of usage
    4. Bullet the learning intentions for clarity
    5. Give an example of the additional accounts to follow things they are interested in but often do not get to read
    6. Acknowledge Twitter as a public conversation so taking care is a legitimate concern though not a reason to avoid
    7. Mention some literature on this topic such as and evidence-based recommendations

    1. It was also just suggested to ask the students to compare their experiences with the literature (mentioned above in the overview) along the experience / at the end. Really good thought for some form of evaluation (here being formative).

  5. Hi Jeffrey,
    You ooze the networked learning spirit 🙂
    This is a very good example how one can scaffold students explore a networked learning tool such as Twitter, reflect and appraise it for their professional development and practice.
    These are mature professional students so perhaps it would be a good idea to only provide them with a few introductory resources (rather than providing them with a lot of content materials or pointers to sources) and let them come up with more of it themselves (perhaps permit some space for appraising conquests as well as you go along) … this may also help initiate them (or refine their skills) of free-falling networked lifelong learning and development.
    Put into practice for me this would be an example where work, learning and entertainment intersect.
    It would be interesting to know the outcome of this teaching (and learning if volunteered) experience.

    Best wishes,

    1. Thanks for the reminder, Maria, about how these are all adult learners with solid life experiences, who while many of them may be hesitant, still need scaffolding while providing them new opportunities for learning in a way that busy working people would best utilize. I like the notion of providing references and inviting them to consider them, or not, as part of their (networked) learning experience.


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