Saturday, September 19, 2009


Last week we put into action what we had spent five months planning: a unit on Twitter, Iran, the media, media bias and the 24-hour news cycle. It was part of what our school called the one-unit challenge, a call for collaborative teaching that included revamping units and incorporating new technology into them. The AP Comparative Government teacher and I had been team teaching for a couple of years a unit on media bias. We realized that the AP Language teacher also had a curricular overlap that would work perfectly with what we had in mind.

When we first started putting the unit together, we had an idea of maybe using blogging, or a ning or something else. We hadn't settled on the new technology. But when the Iran election protest broke out and Twitter became a focal point for the protest, we knew we had our technology and we knew we had something that would really interest the kids. We could teach information literacy, history, argumentation and logic and use Iran, Twitter and the media as a focal point. We would have the kids sign up for Twitter accounts (with parental permission) and we would arrange a Twitter interview with a leading social media journalist so they could ask her questions on the Twitter environment and journalism today. (To see their interview search #bps on

So it was with great disappointment that during our Twitter interview, our students were logging on to their newly created Twitter accounts only to find out that their accounts had been suspended for suspicious activity. Seems that if you create many accounts from one domain name, that is considered spam and abusive AUTOMATICALLY and they suspend your account. I emailed them immediately, but received an automated reply telling me the problem was solved, I wasn't suspended and that I should check again. I told our kids to reply individually, which some they did and they were not reinstated. I increased my irritated emails to support and asked for a human to read them. Nothing.

So I started sending out tweets with the hashtag #twitterfail because they failed the classroom litmus test. If your classroom can't sign up, you can't use it. There has to be a way for educators to sign up their students for school use and that means mass sign-ups at one time, Twitter. Wake up and smell the accounts.

Oh, Twitter, BTW, we are presenting our unit at multiple conferences. Just an FYI. I would love to blog about how you solved the problem. If twitter fixes this mess so my kids can do their research project, then I will be their biggest fan. Right now they haven't and I am uber-irritated.

Thanks, Twitter.

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