I recently was tickled to find this piece on (where else?) Twitter: British r Coming. Pls RT! | Foreign Policy. It’s really funny. It gets one thinking, too. Others have pointed out the value of challenging students to make observations in a succinct 140-character medium. This forces students to use precision about the subject they are evaluating and to prioritize the material succinctly. This is also a moment of frivolity to share with your class.
Aside from being fun, you could actually delve into some real historiographical issues. Each set of tweets could be altered based on the different interpretations from the historiography. For example, assign small groups a different scholar and encourage them to create tweets from the primary documents based on the assigned scholars interpretations. Then you could compare the results.
It adds an extra layer of education, but it’s still fun! Done well, this should be a slightly addictive exercise in levity and history. Students should get addicted because its funny and entertaining. You may find they actually have a better grasp of the scholarly concepts at the end, as well. Maybe you throw it in right before or after exams or a big paper due date to get productivity despite the intensity of their coursework.
This is similar to the concept behind making fake Facebook walls. You are asking students to use the technology with which many of them are well-acquainted as the medium in which to present their findings. This does not suggest that you abandon papers or other means for testing their knowledge and developing skills, it is an alternative that can give students a bit of break without simply putting in a movie and having them unplug. These exercises introduce a little levity and they should be fun. At the end, they’ll be #Twitterstorians!