What is it?

Twitter is a free social networking and micro-blogging service that allows its users to send and read other users’ updates (otherwise known as tweets), which are text-based posts of up to 140 characters in length, typically responding to the question “what are you doing?”.  Posts can be made via the Twitter website, by text message, by email or even through an Instant Messaging service/application. Despite its incredible brevity, people have found a variety of uses for this service.

What is it used for?
  • As a “status” updater, users post comments like “working on writing a paper right now” to let others know where they are or what they’re doing
  • As a “mini-blog”, users post short, frequent updates with their thoughts and current concerns
  • As a quick way of sending out announcements
  • To keep track of several individuals (perhaps their location, current activities, or general thoughts) without directly interacting with them
Who uses it?

Twitter has received particular popularity for it’s ability to update in real time. Particularly useful to journalists, Photographers, news bloggers and even recently politicians, twitter can allow information to hit the web before any other news networks have responded. This has been the case since Twitter went online in 2006, delivering real time updates on major political and other world events directly from journalists and users in the area.

How Does It Work?

Twitter is a free service and only requires creation of a login account. Users can then post and read updates via their Twitter homepage or they can add cell phone numbers, IM accounts and email accounts for receiving and sending Twitter updates. More information on how to add devices and use Twitter can be found on the Twitter FAQ page.

Twitter in Plain English from Common Craft

Things to Consider Before using Twitter

  • Twitter is a very simple service. It is not intended to be a full blog service. Thus, the length of your updates is limited, and for longer more in depth posts, other services might be preferable
  • Twitter takes some getting used to, but its convenience is undeniable. You can configure it to post form text messages, facebook, other blogs or any number of other methods
  • It isn’t necessary to really consider too much about twitter; as a free service, you have nothing to lose by trying it out!

Uses as an Instructional Technology

Using Twitter as a true “instructional technology” may be a stretch. However, understanding the uses of Twitter and other tools like it becomes important as a way to understand more about how students connect to each other and deal with distributing information. Several other social networks, like Facebook, also have quick-updating, Twitter-like status applications for creating short messages. The possibilities become greater as a network expands to more than just a few people. For example, an entire class on Twitter would be more likely to be contacted if class gets canceled than they would if the faculty member only sent out an email since a Twitter update would go to cell phones and other mobile devices as well.

The content on this page was derived from webpages maintained by the Duke University Center for Instructional Technology
The content on this page was derived from the Twitter page maintained by_ Wikipedia

More information available at

7 things you should know about Twitter