The Classroom Tweeters

On the very first day of class, I asked the students in my Content Area Literacy course to consider the question, What Counts as Knowledge? The directions I gave them were:

This course is framed around the question, “What counts as knowledge?” What does it means to know something? Who gets to be an authority on developing knowledge? How does knowledge develop across different disciplines? How does knowledge, and the development of it, get translated in schools?

We are going to approach this question by engaging in Minimally Invasive Instruction. The main idea behind this instruction is simple: Kids can learn if adults get out of the way and provide only minimal (and mindful) interactions. Your directions for this segment of class are as follows:

  1. You have 30 minutes to generate a response to the question What Counts as Knowledge?
  2. How you approach this is up to you. Please feel free to bring anything to class that you think will help in this endeavor.
  3. When 30 minutes are up, we will stop and discuss your current understandings of the question.

Students were told that they could work in whatever configuration that they wished (by themselves, with a partner, group, etc..) and that any and all configurations were to be viewed as fluid and subject to change at any moment for any reason as decided by them. We weren’t too far into the event when a student asked me if they could tweet what they were learning and thinking about.

Sure. Absolutely.

And thus was born our use of #KnowledgeIs (feel free to look this up and offer your own thoughts). The students used it to varying extents, and it worked well.

It worked so well that I decided to invent a new quest off of it called Tweet What You Learn.  I explained it as follows:

Tweet What You Learn is an optional social quest. You sign up for it by checking the course schedule and reading about our next class session. Within each session, you will see the words Class Tweeter followed by a hashtag. Put your name next to Class Tweeter (edit the wiki and make sure you save it! this is first come, first serve).

For F2F sessions, class tweeter has been given a specific section of class to tweet. In some cases, a section is long enough that there may be room for multiple tweeters. Anyone in class can tweet, but if you signed up for it you are expected to tweet regularly throughout the portion of class you signed up for. You will know if you are tweeting too much or too little (make sure not to over tweet and miss paying attention in class – strive to find the balance).

For online sessions, up to three people can be official class tweeters during a week. A week starts on a Tuesday and ends the following Monday. For example, our first online session is 9/8. If you were an online tweeter, your work would start on 9/8 and end the evening of 9/14

Online sessions also have an overview page on the class schedule. Check there to sign up.

Basically, when we meet F2F, I have my class broken down into sections. For example, in our class on September first, we have a section called Moment of the Week. Here’s what the class tweeter bit looks like inside those directions:

Moment of the Week
Class Tweeter: (#contentlit)
Our first Moment of the Week discussion will begin today, and I will be leading it. MOW has us looking at something created in class and something created outside of class. Come back here on Monday, August 31st, to see what MOW is going to be and who we will be discussing!

So, one person can come along and put her name (all women in this class) in to be the Class Tweeter. That person will be the official tweeter during this section of class. When we switch to a different section, as marked on my daily overview, another person can step forward. Or no one can step forward at all. It’s pretty much up to them. For the most part, people seem to be stepping up.

You are allowed to be class tweeter as many times as you want. The only rule is you can only sign up for one segment per class. So if there were three opportunities to sign up in a session, you can sign up for one. Come back next week and sign up for another if you want. I distributed XP as follows:

Class Tweeter – first time 1000
Class Tweeter – times two-four 1500 each
Class Tweeter – times five and six 2000 each
Class Tweeter – time seven 3000

And badges/achievements look like this:

Tweet What You Learn Achievements

Achievement Total XP Needed Total Achievement Points Worth
Level 1 Tweeter 1000 1000
Level 2 Tweeter 4000 5000
Level 3 Tweeter 7500 9000
Level 4 Tweeter 9.500 12,000
Maximum Tweeter 12,500 15,000



I implemented this across both classes, but I want to stress that it is optional. It is one way for a student to acquire XP. There are so many ways to earn XP that how you get it really shouldn’t be a worry for anyone.

What I Like About This

I have always come up with ideas about how to improve a course or create a new assignment based on something that happened on a particular day. However, the general way of operating at a university would pretty much prohibit me from adding assignments. I can take away assignments (and adjust the grading scale accordingly), and I can give extra credit, but I can’t just add in something because it seems like a good idea. With gamification, I can. Yes, sure, you could view the Tweet quest as extra credit, but it’s not extra credit in it’s normal format. The quest simply give students one more option for how to achieve XP, and they don’t have to do it if they don’t want to.

While I am adding quests, I am not changing the grading scale. So there is plenty of XP to be had. Try tweeting. If you like it, great, do it some more. If it’s not your thing then you have so many other options available to you. And if no one tweets at all for some or all of a class it is not a big deal. This is ultimately there class, and they can do with it what they will. I just like that I can create a quest that make sense for one or both of my classes at that moment in time.

See our discussions on at the following hashtags (and feel free to join in!)




One Year Ago Today

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