What can Twitter do for a school department?

Mark Anderson

Mark is an in-demand keynote speaker, former Assistant Headteacher and author of the best-selling 'Perfect ICT Every Lesson' who believes in creativity and innovation in the classroom to empower learners. He is now an independent education consultant/trainer and Independent Thinking Associate. He is also a popular award-winning blogger who has led on some of the earliest and largest 1:1 iPad rollouts in schools in the UK. He is a Pedagoo admin, Google Certified Teacher, Apple Distinguished Educator and Microsoft Certified Educator.

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In case it’s slipped you by, Twitter is a social media service that allows messages of 140 characters or less to be sent out into the ‘Twittersphere’ for sharing. Like many social media you can follow people, organisations, brands, events on Twitter to see the tweets that they write and find out information and read content that they want to share. Personally, I use Twitter to interact with other educators and find it an invaluable PD tool. When I am using it as a tool for my department however I use it in a completely different way.

What is Twitter?


In case it’s slipped you by, Twitter is a social media service that allows messages of 140 characters or less to be sent out into the ‘Twittersphere’ for sharing. Like many social media you can follow people, organisations, brands, events on Twitter to see the tweets that they write and find out information and read content that they want to share. Personally, I use Twitter to interact with other educators and find it an invaluable PD tool. When I am using it as a tool for my department however I use it in a completely different way.


What might a department Twitter account look like?

When it comes to using Twitter as a school body, the way in which the account is most often used is as a messaging service. A one-way street that feeds information to its followers. Commonly it followed by other similar departments, students and parents / carers of children within the school. Department accounts tend to be mostly created within secondary schools, and are used to help broadcast and publish information about events that are happening within the department. It will very often be branded with a logo or image that is relevant to the school or the subject that it relates to. For example, if you were an English department, often the avatar or ‘avi’ image is that of a book, a picture of the school or an image of the school logo. The profile will be filled in with information setting out what the purpose of the department Twitter feed is for. For example, here is the profile for a real English department’s Twitter feed:


PE departments often use their department Twitter feeds very effectively, using it as a reporting service for their sports results. It is also often found to be very popular around the time of year when Sports Day takes place with both students and families keeping track of the field and track events taking place over the course of the event.


PE departments often use their department Twitter feeds very effectively, using it as a reporting service for their sports results. It is also often found to be very popular around the time of year when Sports Day takes place with both students and families keeping track of the field and track events taking place over the course of the event.


Other departments in a school can find Twitter to be useful too. Art departments can make great use of the learning and work completed in their department sharing the work that they do.


The ability to add pictures to tweets can take the learning outside the confines of the classroom, and give work a massive audience that wouldn’t normally get to see what goes on in a classroom on a day-to-day basis.


Mathematics departments can do all of these things too. I’ve seen Maths departments making good use of Twitter to share links to revision materials, videos on the department flipped learning YouTube channel, reminding students to attend revision sessions, links to the iBooks store that they’ve created. There are lots of different ways that a department can choose to share information with its followers.



One final popular use for schools to use Twitter in the form of a department is to provide support and information for families when there is a larger than usual school trip. French exchanges, London theatre trips, residentials – these all provide opportunities for schools to use social media in a positive way to share information about the trip. Have the group arrived safely? Is there a traffic jam on the way home causing them to be late? What activities have they been up to? What have been the highlights of the day? So forth and so on. In my experience, parents really appreciate colleagues and departments who go the extra mile to share information in this way. Perhaps you might like to try it?


Top tips

  • Brand the account with a logo or image related to your school or department.
  • Share information in a one-way street affair – don’t engage in conversation on the account.
  • Put photos onto the account to showcase what is happening, and to extend student work to a wider audience – it gives students a massive sense of authenticity and agency.
  • Be mindful of what photos you put online; err on not putting up photos of students, particularly if you are unsure of whether you have permission to do so – check first!
  • Use it regularly – don’t just use it once a month. If you’re going to do that, you probably might as well not bother.
  • Get the whole department team sharing on the account – spread the sharing around, but work on a single voice approach.
  • Retweet interesting content from other similar accounts.
  • Don’t follow students back.
  • Schedule interesting tweets so that you don’t clog up your department timeline using a free tool such as BufferApp.
  • Publicise your department Twitter feed using in-house digital signage, on your school email signatures, on your school website and department pages and other paperwork or letters and emails that go home to parents.


Do you use Twitter for this use? Let us know in the comments.

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