Teaching with Twitter

21 April 2009

It’s been used to promote movies, fight elections and break news. Now a Deakin University lecturer is using Twitter to help broaden his students’ knowledge of international affairs and give them an insight into the life of an academic.

Dr Scott Burchill, senior lecturer in International Relations at Deakin, is trialling micro-blogging on Twitter during the first part of 2009 to learn more about the technology and to see whether students make use of it.

Unlike users who message – or ‘tweet’ – about anything and everything, Dr Burchill’s Twitter approach is more methodical.

“I try and keep to around three messages a day. They could be about a lecture, an international news event, commentary I have made in the media or a link to an interesting article or website,” he said.

Dr Burchill said he hoped the trial would provide an introduction to new sources of information.

“By sharing details of the materials I’m looking at and reading I’m sharing my research habits. Hopefully this will provide my students, and anyone who is interested, with a diversity of quality, international sources they wouldn’t otherwise necessarily find.

“I’m also trying to give students an insight into the profile of someone who wants to be well-informed in a specialised area, to give them a sense of what an academic needs to do in order to stay informed in such a rapidly changing field,” he said.

Dr Burchill said the brevity, accessibility and immediacy of Twitter was appealing.

“The maximum of 140 characters per message means you have to think carefully about how you express yourself. And because it works on a mobile phone as well as a computer, the information can follow you around,” he said.

The trial, which is voluntary for students, will be evaluated in June. To find Dr Burchill on Twitter log on to

News facts
  • Twitter trialled as tool to communicate with students
  • An introduction to new information sources
  • An insight into what an academic needs to do to stay informed

Media contact

Vanessa Barber
Deakin Media Relations
03 5227 71301 or 0488 292 644

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21st April 2009