In her article “Stepping Through the Looking Glass: Twitter for Educators,” Jennifer Swartz aptly presents the alternative uses of a social media platform, specifically Twitter, for academic purposes. She was initially motivated to join Twitter as a user expecting typical services, to remain in contact with friends and family. She later returned to the platform with new expectations, that of the ability to communicate with other teachers beyond her own school district. Just like Swartz, I too had never considered Twitter to be a platform that could offer up that type of academic community. From my own practice with an account, which I very rarely interact with anymore, I never got the impression that this could be a sustainable academic platform. While Twitter is limited to the amount of characters that can be posted in a message, I will concur that it is useful in helping to connect people globally. These people can just as likely be academics as twenty-somethings that are interacting with each other to learn, why not create the opportunity to foster those bonds to prove worthwhile? Twitter could encompass the practices of presenting historical research, sharing historical photographs, and tagging others who would be interested in participating in this research together. Social media can serve academic purposes, but I remain hesitant.
Kayla Delzer’s article entitled “Three Reasons Students Should Own Your Classroom’s Twitter and Instagram Accounts” also presented an opportunity for social media to become an academic source, but with a different approach. In this work, she stated how “it is quickly becoming non-negotiable for all classrooms to leverage social media in order to communicate with families and other classrooms—thus engaging others in the daily lives of students. While simply posting “fun” photos is a start, this novelty wears off quickly, and as a result, we must think more critically about how we communicate via social media.” This, it seems, is a common struggle for educators to overcome. Developing a balance between the amount of academic and professional integrity a social media course interface would proffer as well as the entertainment value it would have would be difficult to gage. In allowing students to use social media in the classroom, Delzer suggests that this creates a sense of community within an institution. Her example was that of students utilizing the same hashtag to form a collection of work with other students who also included the same hashtag, so that these works would be able to be viewed by all of the students involved within the school that helped to create them.