Open-Ended Questions on Twitter

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Twitter is a great way to push a quick message to a broad audience or, in other words, to get a quick shout in the internet hubbub. Over the past year, I have been trying different ways to use Twitter as a novel educational tool. I’m not interested in having students write tweets to report their work, as that can be done just as well with paper, pen, and the ability to count to 140.

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Instead, I think the power of Twitter is that it is always available. I can sneakily get my students to think about educational topics while they’re out with friends, hanging at home, or on the bus. I have been tweeting open-ended questions, usually accompanied by an illustrative photo, that might provoke students to think deeply about non-trivial science questions.

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I try to tweet a combination of questions that can be answered with a calculation, questions that have generally-accepted answers, and questions that are truly mysterious for deep reasons. I personally love these last most of all, but I know many students find them frustrating.

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