By: Pamela Rossow
If you are in an educational field as a student, teacher, or parent, you may have wondered about the benefits of social media—specifically Twitter. All that tweeting seems like it could give you a headache. What if Twitter was more than just a way to dish about the amazing Caprese salad you had at lunch and actually a way to help students learn better? Here are 5 ways that Twitter may enhance learning . . .
Class participation. In a traditional classroom, some students may feel intimidated to join in class discussions. Most of the time, a handful of students actively participates and the teacher or professor must resort to calling on students in an effort to engage them. By utilizing Twitter in the classroom, teachers could invite students to tweet answers or comments and then the real-time results should be displayed for the class to see. Polls might be incorporated and students must vote via Twitter. The tweets could be used to begin a more nuanced class discussion into the subject area. What is talked about inside the classroom, with the help of Twitter, may carry over into discussions outside the classroom.
Projects. While shy, online college students may not find it as challenging to speak up in class because they tend to use discussion boards which take some of the pressure off, these students may find it more difficult to make study buddies. By using Twitter to collaborate on school projects, online college students may keep in touch by setting up Skype times, sharing interesting links related to the projects, and the communication is instantaneous.
Outside in. Twitter might be a handy tool for bringing the outside world into the classroom. Students are able to ask questions and receive answers in real-time. Professors, in an effort to stay more connected to their students, may set up Twitter accounts specifically for engaging in educational discussions outside the classroom. For online students who don’t always have the same opportunities as traditional students to meet professors face-to-face, Twitter can be a lifesaver if a question arises regarding a book or grade.
Networking. Now-a-days, being well networked is imperative for many college students. While they are earning their degrees online or in-person, they typically come into contact with a wide variety of people such as professors, career counselors, peers, and potential employers at job fairs. Making the decision to remain plugged in is almost an automatic one and Twitter is another way that college students might network to find internships, study abroad opportunities, or reaching out to industry professionals.
Finding information. Twitter is a world of information. While you may need to sift through some fluff to glean the facts, most of the time the data is there. It could just be a matter of finding it. From downloading free eBooks, polling people, or trying to find the best place to spend spring break, Twitter is bound to have what you are looking for. Use #s or hash tags to find large chunks of related data on Twitter. By typing in #techcareers, Twitter will reveal to you Tweets with the same hash tag so you can sift through the results for the information you’re looking for. You can also use an app like TweetScan to help you find content which is then emailed to you.
Education and Twitter can be synonymous if Twitter is used in a way that benefits educators and students. Just because it is a popular social media site, doesn’t mean that it is only a form of distraction. By harnessing its superpowers for good, Twitter can help, not hurt, education.
Pamela Rossow is a freelance writer who works with higher education clients such as eLearners. She is a native South Floridian who enjoys photography, literature, and hockey. You can follow her on Google+.