Twitter: The New Classroom Par-tweet-cipation

In college, large lectures with 200-plus students are often the norm. Due to the sheer size of these classes, many students are too shy to ask questions and speak up in class. Looking to find a solution to this class participation dilemma, educators have turned to Twitter, the social networking giant, for answers. Dr. Monica Rankin, a professor at the University of Texas at Dallas, experimented with Twitter in her classroom and was surprised to discover that it successfully engaged many more students in discussion. During her lectures, students tweet comments and questions to her through their laptop or cell phone. Dr. Rankin and her teaching assistant then respond to the tweets, which are displayed through a live feed at the front of the room.

“It’s been really exciting, because in classes like this, you’ll have three people who talk about the discussion material, and so to actually have 30 or 40 people at the same time talking about it is really interesting,” said Megan Malone, Dr. Rankin’s teaching assistant.

Essentially, students are much more willing to contribute through tweets because it is far less self-conscious and intimidating than raising their hand in class. In addition, since most students already come to class with a laptop or cell phone at hand, it makes sense to have them utilize those devices toward learning.

Educators have found that in addition to encouraging more students to contribute during class, the use of Twitter has even motivated some students to continue discussing topics after class as well. It’s great to see that Twitter has educational benefits. Clearly, it’s something professors across the nation may want to implement in their own classrooms. [via Mashable]

Here's a video of Dr. Rankin’s class Twitter experiment:

Photo via 360 magazine