13 A student reflects on Twitter and her academic experience: A Student’s PLN

Haley Zanga

Twitter, I am sure everyone has heard of twitter before whether or not you use the app. Twitter is an online news and social networking service where users can post and interact with each other through messages known as “tweets” that are restricted to 140 characters. As Keene State College is now moving towards a new way of learning and teaching called Open Education we have now been incorporating the use of twitter in our classrooms. If you want to learn more about KSC Open check out the website that has been created as well as the continuing blog posts Dr. Cangialosi has posted for updated information on open pedagogy.

Over the last couple of semesters many of my classes have begun to encompass the use of twitter as a requirement for the course. After hearing we were going to be using twitter in my Tropical Marine Bio course in the spring I immediately thought, how can twitter help with my education? This is dumb. Now, sitting here a semester later I could have never imagined the profound effect that twitter would have on my education.

One advantage of twitter is that it gives us the capability to connect to a much larger audience outside of Keene State College. Who you follow is a huge contributor to what you get out of twitter. Start following companies, organizations, news articles, professors and fellow undergrads to make the most out of twitter.

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Above is a screenshot taken from my twitter account. This is to show I follow variety of people such as other research labs that work with planarian flat worms (like me!), graduate students met at research conferences, fellow professors and undergrads at KSC, as well as bigger organizations like NSF Biology and Molecular Biology. To read more about the benefits of twitter check out Dr. Cangialosi, one of the leaders of open pedagogy here at KSC, to learn more.


Hashtags are important when using twitter. It allows you to gain attention to other users who are looking for that hashtag or particular topic. A hashtag begins with a # sign followed by a word. In my tropical marine class we used a class hashtag to allow all of us to follow what each other was posting. Our classroom hashtag was #KSCMarineBio. Even after the class has ended many of us are still using this hashtag to communicate with each other.  Below are examples of how we use hashtags at KSC.

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Screenshots taken from my twitter account shows how Marisa Benjamin, a student in my tropical marine class, still uses the class hashtag from last semester, as well as incorporating her new course hashtag from this semester; Connecting classes on twitter!


TweetDeck are another way to incorporate the use of twitter throughout your education and life. TweetDeck offers a convenient way to look at twitter by letting you view multiple timelines (i.e. hashtags) on one screen. Below is a screen shot of what my TweetDeck looks like.

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An example showing the power of twitter is last February when the Pre-Medical Club attended the AMSA conference in Washington, D.C. After learning about the importance of twitter use in our Tropical Marine Bio class, we posted a tweet at the end of our trip, expressing our gratitude for the knowledge and experience we gained during this convention. This tweet can be seen below. Later on we saw that AMSA National had actually retweeted our tweet and made us the current homepage of AMSA’s Facebook page! This was really exciting for us as a new club at KSC and also showed us the power of twitter. The use of the internet gives us the ability to communicate with big organizations that we may not have the ability to without it. Twitter gives us a fast and effective way of communication.

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Overall, I was very skeptical using twitter in class. I never thought it would have such a huge impact on me with my education.  I have learned so much with the use of twitter. I was surprised at how I could use a social media app for educational purposes. I have also learned how many connections you can make with other faculty or colleagues from different institutions. Using twitter can be powerful if used in the right way. I hope to continue to use twitter to make connections and expand my education through this social media app.


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