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Using Twitter for Student Engagement


In academic year 2015/16, the eLearning Course Director's Forum and VLE Futures Working Group worked on a recommendations paper for using Twitter for Student Engagement. The paper was subsequently endorsed by the Digital Learning Sub Committee. The recommendations have been reviewed by Media and Publications.

Table of contents


  • Communicate with your students through a personal Twitter presence rather than a generic course account. If you are new to Twitter, this can be a daunting prospect but the value of developing your personal and professional network through online connections can be a valuable professional development opportunity.
  • Use Hashtags to help connect Tweets to a community. 
    • What is a hashtag? This helpful resource helps explain how hash tags work.
    • How do I choose a hashtag? it’s a good idea to check that it is not already in use and connecting a tag to a place minimises the chances of hashtag conflicts. #ixdbelfast is a good example of a hashtag that connects a course, Interaction Design, to a geographical location, Belfast. You can consider using Ulster in the hashtag but this does run a risk of conflicting with existing institutional branding and marketing initiatives.
  • Focusing on authenticity rather than broadcasting marketing material can really help create a community around your Twitter presence. IXDBelfast creates a credible identity by tweeting authentic messages that help attract students without broadcasting traditional marketing materials.
  • Encourage students to contribute to the hashtag and show examples of their work, influences and sources. It’s a great way of opening curriculum through shared resources. It also helps keep material fresh and relevant.
  • Be careful to protect Ulster’s data. The Staff Handbook – Protecting Ulster University Information is a really useful resource to help you understand risk.
  • Be aware that hashtags can be hijacked, it’s rare but it can happen. Hashtags are a community-driven, flexible categorisation system so you should be aware that this is a risk.  If it does happen, and it is causing distress, you can report misuse on the Twitter website at:
  • There are some useful guidelines to provide practical guidance on effectively using social media at:
  • Have a conversation with your students about using Twitter for Teaching and Learning purposes, manage expectations and agree use that feels comfortable for you and your students.
    • Decide whether you will actively monitor and answer questions or use Twitter instead to build a self-sustaining community.
    • Manage expectations of how you will communicate. Twitter can get unmanageable if there is an expectation that you will be available to answer questions at any time. A self-sustaining community presence is an attractive idea and changes the dynamic from one to many (you to students) to many to many (students partnering, sharing and contributing).
    • Ensure that your students know about Ulster’s Social Media Guidelines and Social Media Policy -

Additional Resources

A number of supplementary resources were reviewed during the development of the guidelines and are recommended for further reading: