Best Practices Examples: Twitter and Blogs

In this section you will find recommended best practices on using Twitter and blogs effectively in your teaching. In addition, sample activities have been included.

Note: The use of social media services and applications that are not supported by the University must follow university guidelines and policies. See U of T Guidelines on Teaching with Social Media for more information.

Twitter: Best Practices

  • Provide a short Twitter briefing (with class hashtag) and a Twitter glossary for your course
  • Clearly communicate the pedagogical rationale
  • Model for your students how to be concise and creative
  • Use it in first class: make an informal assignment to devise a 140-character answer to a question, and promote the best answers in class
  • Participate regularly on Twitter during/after class—tweet useful links, retweet often, diversify its use
  • Get students to connect in different ways: with you, the content, and each other
  • Twitter is a public channel so be prepared for abuse

(From Chapman (2015) and Hawks (2012))

Twitter Activity/Assignment examples

Example 1

Twitter 3 – 2 – 1: Hold a live chat so students can reflect on lectures and course readings.

(Adapted from Paterson & Rolheiser, 2009)

Purpose: To check for student understanding of course topics, and to provide students with an opportunity to give written feedback to instructor.


  1. Communicate to students the date and time on which the live chat will be held.
  2. Create a chat hashtag, such as #PSYC101chat or other unique hashtag, and instruct students to include the hashtag in every tweet during the chat.
  3. Before the session, decide on a format for the Chat & Learn, prompting students to prepare specific types of contributions. For instance, you may ask that they join the chat having prepared the following:
    – 3 important points from the lecture. 2 Limitations of this perspective. 1 Point that was unclear.
  4. During the chat, look for patterns in responses and tweet your own thoughts or summaries to address students’ contributions and concerns.

Example 2

The Twitter Essay

(Adapted from Stommel, 2012)

Purpose: to succinctly make and support an argument.


  1. Ask students to follow Twitter discussions on specific topics over a period of time. During this time, you may be instructing them on various aspects of essay writing, such as audience, brainstorming, providing support and revising.
  2. Tweet the Twitter Essay instructions in under 140 characters. For example: “What is a monster? Answer in a Twitter essay of exactly 140 characters using #twitteressay. Play, innovate, incite. Don’t waste a character.”
  3. Provide complete instructions on the activity/assignment, either in class or in your syllabus.  Be sure to include the assignment or class hashtag in your instructions. If this is a new method of assessment for your students, consider providing a rubric detailing how their contributions will be graded.
  4. Ask students to retweet or quote their peers, providing their feedback and insight.  Again, provide students with a rubric for this peer review step.

Blogs: Best Practices

  • Lead by example: create a model post demonstrating how you expect students to contribute.
  • Consider your options: individual student blog, small group blog or course blog aggregating everyone’s contributions?
  • Think about who should be writing the content and how often, and who should be commenting on the content, and how often.
  • If using a course blog, add a description to the blog. Readers should be able to understand the purpose and context of the blog.

Blog Activity/Assignment examples

Research/Writing Log

(Adapted from Hedge, 2013)

Purpose: To have students report on their research or writing progress, while engaging with other students and learning to provide constructive feedback.


  1. Have students create their own, individual blogs. Blogs can be public (e.g., WordPress) or private (e.g., Quercus).
  2. Present students with a detailed description of what is expected for the blog. Consider including expectations on design aspects of the assignment/activity, such as images and layout, and content aspects such as research areas of interest, personal motivations for taking the course, etc.
  3. Students are asked to record their research process in their blog once a week.
  4. Toward the end of the course, peers are asked to provide constructive feedback on one or two classmates’ blogs. The feedback instructions can be open, or specific (e.g., state 1 thing you feel your peer did well, and 1 thing your peer could do to facilitate the research process/improve their writing).
  5. As a final contribution, students are asked to reflect on peers’ comments, providing a rationale for feedback they would like to incorporate into their work, as well as for feedback they will not incorporate.