In section 1 of this study, I will consider the key features of Twitter as well as therange of third-party applications that enhance or extend Twitter functionality. Insection 2, I will cover current uses of Twitter for learning and teaching as well assome of the issues that have been raised about the appropriateness of its use inHE. Finally, my conclusion will raise a number of questions for future research.
1: Twitter explained
1.1: Twitter: microblogging and social networking
Twitter is a social-networking and micro-blogging service developed in SanFrancisco and rst launched in October 2006. Twitter posts, or, ‘tweets’, are nolonger than 140 characters in length and can include hyperlinks. One becomes aTwitter user, or twitterer, by creating a personal account and by posting tweets to apersonalised online news feed, or, as it is more commonly known, a 'timeline' whichdisplays them in reverse chronological order (i.e. most recent at the top). The defaultsetting for Twitter accounts is that user timelines are public unless the accountholder decides to make them private, in which case, they are only accessible toapproved followers of that account. If a Twitter user decides to follow anothertwitterer, then they will receive that person's tweets on their timeline. Twittertimelines, therefore, comprise of both tweets by the account holder as well as theusers they are following.Part of Twitter's popularity is its ease of use and versatility; although Twitter a wasdeveloped initially as a web-based platform, tweets can be sent via a computer orvia a mobile phone as an SMS message. On some mobile phone networks in somecountries, users can receive tweets from selected users they are following as textmessages. In the UK, for example, both Vodaphone and O2, allow tweets to bereceived as SMS messages. There are now many free desktop clients (i.e softwareusers download and install) for Macs and PCs (e.g. Tweetdeck, Tweetie ) and mobile‘apps’ (e.g. Twitteric, Tweetberry) for various types of 'smart' phones (e.g. iPhone,BlackBerry, Nokia) that make sending, organising and reading tweets easier.