How Twitter Saved my Literature Class, 4

Welcome to installment 4/10 of “How Twitter Saved my Literature Class: A Case Study with Discussion.” For more on teaching with twitter, read the full text.

I first encountered Twitter as a journalist. Having hosted a humanities computing public affairs radio show since 2000 (called “Dr. Andy’s Poetry and Technology Hour“), I knew about the importance of Twitter from a social networking and business standpoint. In 2007 Time Magazine had written that Twitter was “on its way to becoming the next killer app” (Hamilton), and the New York Times said that Twitter was “one of the fastest growing phenomena on the internet” (Pontin, 2007). Twitter’s growth has been sustained over the last few years, as evidenced by the 1100% year-over-year growth from the beginning to the end of 2008. 75 million people visited in January of 2010, and all those twitterers sent about 1.2 billion tweets, each 140 characters or less, and most of them read by fans and followers (Schonfeld, 2010). During the summer that I taught the short fiction class, huge numbers of Iranian dissidents had used Twitter to circumvent state run media and their government’s attempts at censorship to communicate with each other and with the world. The evening news ran “illegal” YouTube footage of millions of protesters marching through the streets of Iran, and newscasters and other journalists began describing the unrest as a “Twitter revolution” (Morozov, 2009).

2009 Iran Election Protest
2009 Iran Election Protest

I was covering the Twitter phenomenon and the use of Twitter by Iranian dissidents on my radio show, so I was sold on the idea that this new social networking interface was becoming increasingly important, as well as adaptable. If millions of dissidents could hatch complex protest strategies using Twitter, I thought, then my students and I should be able to use the same tool to discuss Edgar Allan Poe and Anton Chekhov. I hoped that I had discovered a way to make QQCs more relevant and helpful, and that we could use this trendy tool to share our thoughts, paperlessly, with everyone in the class.

Jones, A. “How Twitter Saved my Literature Class: A Case Study with Discussion.” (2011). Teaching Arts and Science with the New Social Media. A collection edited by Charles Wankel. United Kingdom: Emerald Group Publishing Limited, 91-106.

Post Author: Simon Dvorak

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