"But I don't want to keep up with my students after school hours!"

I can hear the self-righteous teachers union-members whining already, in response to this addition to my list of the ways we can improve instruction by use of social mediaTwitter this time.

According to this article by Susan Kinzie, progressive US educators are already taking advantage of social media to facilitate the very social act of learning. In particular, she describes the way a Twitter stream is in some classes extending the learning dialog outside the walls of the classroom. In addition to keeping a student engaged in meaningful information transfer, making a tweet gets him/her practicing extreme conscision in communication (>140 characters discipline), a writing quality that requires high levels of critical thinking by students.
“SomeTeacher Jitters over Twitters easing” in the Washington Post highlights (emphases added):

In a large introductory class… online comments meant [students] could challenge and support one another… making learning less top-down, more collaborative. Mottahedeh was thrilled with the result, concluding that because their class work was public, they were much more conscious of what they were writing, more serious and more engaged than previous classes.

Teachers use Twitter to raise questions, conduct discussions, link to additional readings, and allow each individual to take personal responsibility for their community’s communication. When a student communicates with this audience, he must make the critical decisions we value in the information society: Claims one enthusiastic student:

“It was good practice to pick out interesting things that are happening live and try to get them across as quickly — with the most impact — as you possibly could.”

My questions to teachers and school administrators is simple: if we know of this method’s usefulness, can we please get over out-dated notions of “school day” and begin doing en masse what English teachers like me have been doing for decades: taking on serious communication with learners in writing each school night, by approximately 1-3 hours?

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