Twitter and Political Theory

15 Pages Posted: 1 Feb 2010

See all articles by Ari Kohen

Ari Kohen

University of Nebraska at Lincoln - Department of Political Science

Date Written: January 29, 2010


I became convinced, nearly a year ago, that Twitter might be integrated into the classroom experience in ways that would benefit students and contribute to the learning environment of a college campus. My concern, however, was to find a way to do so without distracting students from my lectures, our classroom discussions, and their own note-taking. After all, students with laptops already have so many ways to distract themselves: checking their email, surfing the Web, and chatting with their friends via instant message or Facebook.

Thus, my first attempt at bringing Twitter into the classroom was a small-scale one: I used the service to broadcast questions and answers during exam review sessions. Since these sessions took place outside of our regularly-scheduled class period, there were students who were unable to attend due to scheduling conflict (like other classes or work schedules). Using Twitter in this way allowed students to keep up, in some small way, with the reviewing that their peers were doing. In addition, it made students aware that I was using Twitter and several began to follow my updates, further breaking down some of the barriers that exist between students and faculty.

This past semester the project evolved: I created an account for my class on contemporary political theory. As part of the class, I asked students to use Twitter to follow the class account and to participate in a discussion outside of class via Twitter. I also encouraging other users from the broader Twitterverse to follow the discussion and to participate if they are so inclined. This paper looks back at the experiment and considers what worked, what didn't work, and whether Twitter is a technological advancement for teaching political theory.

Keywords: political theory, Twitter, technology, pedagogy

Suggested Citation

Kohen, Ari, Twitter and Political Theory (January 29, 2010). APSA 2010 Teaching & Learning Conference Paper. Available at SSRN: or

Ari Kohen (Contact Author)

University of Nebraska at Lincoln - Department of Political Science ( email )

511 Oldfather Hall
P.O. Box 880328
Lincoln, NE 68588-0328
United States

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