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Tweeting the night away: Using Twitter to enhance social presence

By Patrick Lowenthal and Joni Dunlap

Patrick Lowenthal

Dr. Patrick Lowenthal

To be truly effective, online learning must facilitate the social process of learning. This involves providing space and opportunities for students and faculty to engage in social activities. Although learning management systems offer several tools that support social learning and student engagement, the scope, structure, and functionality of those tools can inhibit and restrain just-in-time social connections and interactions. In this teaching tip, we describe our use of Twitter to encourage freeflowing just-in-time interactions and how these interactions can enhance social presence in online courses. We then describe instructional benefits of Twitter, and conclude with guidelines for incorporating Twitter in online courses.
Joanna C. Dunlap PhD is an associate professor of learning design and technology in the School of Education and Human Development at the University of Colorado Denver. Joni’s teaching and research interests focus on the use of sociocultural instructional approaches to enhance students’ learning and experience in postsecondary settings. Recently her work in this area has revolved around digital / online teaching and learning, creative design practices, and faculty development. Email:
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