To demonstrate the power of the social network, Dr. Groves has his multimedia writing class participate in a multi-university event called the Twitter Scavenger Hunt.
The official rules are simple. Students send out 10 tweets about 10 topics that vary from school spirit to little known facts about their university.
Each tweet issued for this assignment has the hashtag #JRLWeb attached to it. Some professors also include a hashtag dedicated to their class; Dr. Groves used #221writers.
After students have completed their tweets, they begin to interact with students from other universities using #JRLWeb with questions and replies. Once the students complete the scavenger hunt, they take to Storify to compile their tweets on a single webpage.
Using #JRLWeb and #221writers, Dr. Groves’ students took to the Web interacting and socializing with student from as close as Memphis and as far away as Cairo, Egypt.
— Danielle Linderman (@dlinderman01) February 10, 2014
But the question still remains: Why Twitter?
Dr. Groves (@grovesprof) is an avid Twitter user. Describing it as the Wild West of social networking, he argues that Twitter has developed itself into a league of its own. Being used for business, advertising, connecting both professionally and personally, and empowering social movements, Twitter is quickly become a platform for journalism and writing, Dr. Groves says.
Today’s content creators must understand Twitter and its place in the media landscape. It’s a critical piece of the today’s mass-communication puzzle.
Twitter allows information to emerge from the mass of tweets, a phenomenon researcher Alfred Hermida (@hermida) calls “ambient journalism.” Tweeting spreads on-the-ground reports quickly from journalists and nonjournalists alike. Dr. Groves points to the 2009 Iranian protests where local tweets from nonjournalists using the #iranelection hashtag helped give the rest of the world a view of what was happening in the closed society. The more individuals tweeting about a certain situation and providing information allows for on-the-fly verification and validation of information.
Dr. Groves’ love for Twitter and all things tech pushes him to bring the social network into his classroom. Learning how to use social sites such as Twitter allow students the chance to connect with others in their neighborhood and across the world.