Using Twitter for Group Learning A guide introducing Twitter for use with your course.


  • Getting Started
  • So what is Twitter?
  • How Twitter Works
  • Your First Tweet
  • Hashtags
  • Searching
  • Usernames
  • Follow Challenge
  • Next Steps
Getting Started

Getting Started

We will be using Twitter as an integral part of your course.

This is a short guide providing everything you need to know so you can engage with your course with Twitter.

Even if you are already a Twitter expert, please take a few moments to work through this guide before our first session.

Sign up for a FREE Twitter Account.
Twitter will suggest people follow when you first sign up.

We advise you un-tick these suggestions for now. You can always add people to follow later as you find your feet!

Most people use Twitter on their Smartphone...

Download the Apps you need to access Twitter on your smart device.

If you want to use your laptop or computer, you can access Twitter from a Web Browser. Just sign in with your username and password.

Managing your account and building a profile, can sometimes be easier using a web browser than on a smart device.
So WHAT IS Twitter?

So What is Twitter?

Twitter enables you to publish short messages up to 140* characters long.

These are called tweets.

Other Twitter users can choose to follow you.

Followers see your tweets.

You can choose to follow other Twitter users.

You will see tweets from those you follow.

And that, in essence, is Twitter!

*Twitter is experimenting with doubling the length of tweets to 280 characters. Watch this space!

How TwiTTER Works

How Twitter Works

When you open Twitter you will see a list of tweets, newest first, from all the people you follow.

But Twitter isn’t like email or a messaging service.

You do not have to read every tweet. Twitter is more like a stream, reporting what is happening right now. People often skim through current tweets, at the top of the list, ignoring stuff that happened a while ago.

People use Twitter in different ways:
  • Some users just follow people, reading their tweets and never making tweets of their own. They use Twitter as a kind of 'news feed'.
  • Other users tweet all the time, creating a stream of information they hope will be of interest to others. They create 'news'.
  • Most of us are somewhere in-between.
People use Twitter for different reasons:
  • Some use Twitter to share with family and friends.
  • Others use Twitter to keep abreast of what is going on, for example; in the news, in their profession or in their community.
We are going to use Twitter to engage you with your course!
Public Broadcast

Twitter is public!

Unlike email, every tweet you make is public. This is great for engaging with people in a forum like a course.


Twitter is not a space to make private comments or disseminate private information!

Course Hashtag

Course Hashtag

Before you continue, you need to ask your tutor for your 'course hashtag'. This is a label beginning with a # (hash character).

You will need to replace #ReplaceWithCourseHashtag with the hashtag supplied by your tutor to engage with the activities below.

If you are viewing this resource independent of a course then you can use the hashtag #ReplaceWithCourseHashtag to experiment!

Your First Tweet

Your First Tweet

Let's announce ourselves to the world!
  • Click the new tweet icon.
  • Type the following text:
Hello world! #ReplaceWithCourseHashtag
  • Click the tweet to publish your tweet.
Congratulations! You have just sent your first tweet


When you create a tweet you can highlight important words - the kind of things people search for.

Twitter calls these hashtags.

Put a hash ‘#' character in front of a word, #relevant and #important to your tweet, and others will have a way of #finding it.

But hashtags have evolved way past simple key-wording.

Hashtags have become a powerful device for getting people engaged with what is happening right now and without having to follow anyone.

Many events and happenings publish a related hashtag. Participants are encouraged to include these hashtags in their tweets. Anyone searching on these hashtags can see what is happening right now even if they do not know the participants. Hashtags enable live discussion while an event is happening.

Educators create #hashtags to support courses.

Course hashtags enable live events, current resources or discussion topics to be tweeted and shared. Students can search for the course hashtag to engage with discussion and share resources of their own without having to follow or be followed by anyone.



Click the search icon and search for


You should be able to see all our Hello World tweets! Searching for our course will display a list of tweets containing the course hashtag. The latest tweets will be displayed first.

You can search for more than one hashtag at a time. Later in the course you might decide on a hashtag for your group. For example, Searching for:

#ReplaceWithCourseHashtag #Flip

will display all the tweets including those hashtags. See how you can generate very specific searches and generate specific conversation streams for specific groups quickly and easily?


Some Twitter Apps highlight hashtags. Tap a highlighted hashtag to search for all the other tweets that contain it.



Twitter usernames always start with an ampersand '@'. If you see a word starting with an ampersand - that is somebody’s username.

Search for #ReplaceWithCourseHashtag' again. Can you see people's username in their tweets?

Tap a @username to see that person's profile and a list of tweets they have made.

If you like what you see you can follow them! There is a follow icon in everyones profile. If you follow someone you will then see every tweet that person makes. When you follow someone Twitter lets them know. When someone follows you Twitter will let you know.

You can unfollow people by tapping the unfollow icon in their profile. Twitter does NOT inform people when you stop following them. So if you are fed up with someone's tweets you can unfollow without having to let them know or explain why.

Getting around.

Take a few moments to look at the different icons on your Twitter App.

Tapping the home icon will take you back to your live stream of tweets.


If a username appears in a tweet, Twitter tells that user they have been mentioned. Mentions are a great way to include other Twitter users you know in your tweets. And is a great way to know when your stuff is being talked about!

Follow Challenge

Follow Challenge

Search for #ReplaceWithCourseHashtag
Follow colleagues on the course!

Using Twitter can add a whole new dimension to a learning experience.

This is YOUR experience.

What will you share?

What discussions do you want to initiate to support your learning journey?

Try Twitter now! You might just be surprised where it takes you!
Next Steps

Next Steps

We have not covered everything about Twitter here. Just the basics. For example, we have not discussed retweets.

Explore! Experiment!

You can also tweet pictures and videos and links and...

Why not tweet a question?

For example. Why not tweet 'What is a retweet?'

Already a Twitter Expert?

Look out for 'help me' tweets and support those taking their first steps.

Want to dig deeper?

Check out the official Twitter help guide here:


Copyright 2016 Ian Upton (ian@ianupton.info). Some rights reserved. Licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)


Created with images by Creative Tools - "CreativeTools.se - Twitter bird standing on branch - Close-up" • mh.xbhd.org - "Journey Vienna 2012 - by Michael Emhofer" • dullhunk - "Tweeting down Twitter Lane, Waddington, Lancashire" • MDGovpics - "Tweet Up" • Hans - "radar equipment antennas radio tower" • Gavin Llewellyn - "Tweets and hashtags" • striatic - "eboo" • cambodia4kidsorg - "Hash Tags Are Like Snow Flakes" • jack vicary - "lion cub searching for the mother" • Jackie L Chan - "Yorke writes his Chinese name" • ernop - "conga line roller skating" • kevin dooley - "Future tense" • Horia Varlan - "Large copyright graffiti sign on cream colored wall"

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