1. Create a poll
A great starting point for research is the generation of new statistical results on a given topic, but when restricted to their own friends and contacts, it can be difficult for students to get enough results to provide a representative sample. This problem can be solved via Twitter using a clever tool like Pollowers or Poll Everywhere, which literally turns your Twitter followers’ tweets into poll responses. Simply ask a question in a tweet, then sit back and watch as the tool catalogues responses, allowing you to follow and record the results in real-time.
2. Keep up to date with new developments
Twitter can be a great tool for research, but students don’t always have time to trawl through tweets every day looking for updates on their topics of study. A great tool like Twilert can help; sending instant alerts to let students know when a particular research keyword has been mentioned on Twitter. The tool then takes them directly to the relevant tweet, cutting out all the unproductive time spent searching for pertinent information.
3. Hold a #hashtag chat
By creating their own hashtag, students can invite participants from around the world to take part in instant research by contributing to a live discussion on any given topic. Collect all responses and count up the answers to perform a post-discussion statistical analysis. Students may wish to quote some of the responses to a Twitter chat in their research – a great way to provide immediacy and individual viewpoints to project work. It’s always advisable to advertise the time and date of a Twitter chat a few days in advance, including the hashtag that will be used, to generate a buzz and guarantee a good, responsive turnout on the day.
4. Ask the experts
The fantastic thing about Twitter is that the tool facilitates direct contact with leaders in any given field. Encourage students to ask questions from world-renowned scientists and thinkers. Even if they don’t immediately reply, other experts may well rise to the challenge instead! Follow field-leading accounts such as National Geographic and New Scientist to keep up-to-date with expert information daily.
5. Conduct interviews
From famous faces, to academics who might be almost impossible to track down in real life, Twitter offers students the very real opportunity to elicit direct responses to their interview questions, albeit in 140 characters or less. Tweeting a range of experts on a given topic should yield at least one or two expert quotes that students can include in reports or project work.
How do your students use Twitter for research? Let us know below!