And now half of them are tweeting like mad and really dig the idea of microblogging, while the other half just can't see the point. It shouldn't surprise me that absolutely none of the tweeting has anything to do with physics. I even tried letting them tweet in class, but only a few were fast enough with the cell phones to keep up. With some practice, it might avoid being a distraction, but I doubt it. That and the cell phone ban violations, of course, put a cramp on its utility in a regular classroom.
I have three Twitter experiments coming up with the kids that might give the streams a bit more focus (probably not, but I haven't given up as I slowly morph into a social media nerd). The first will be a fairly lengthy and challenging assignment of the sort we would usually do together in class. I'll have them do it for homework and set up some Twitter-time when I'll be online and they should attempt to work through problems and collaborate usefully.
The second will be during an upcoming egg drop experiment (the usual impulse and momentum egg-breaking fun). We'll use Twitter to report on the whole thing and archive our stream.
The final experiment will be to report collectively (and keep track of each other) on an upcoming trip to Six Flags. I promised the principal we'd relate it to the curriculum so we'll let him follow our Twitter stream as we examine acceleration, angular momentum, centripetal forces, and all the other physics goodies that make roller coasters fun.
If none of these work, I'm swearing off Twitter in the classroom and leaving it for sociology professors. I'll let you know.