David Zax / ASEE Prism Magazine / October 2009 /
Twitter can improve teacher-student communication, in and out of class.
In most respects, Prof. Natasha Neogi's aerospace engineering class is
like any other. It's a large, hour-long lecture-style course at the
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. But at the halfway mark,
Neogi's class takes on a new twist. She invites her students to log on
to Twitter - the "micro-blogging" service that limits messages to 140
characters - and write in with questions. Neogi sifts through the
"tweets," in Twitter-speak, addressing the most common sticking point at
the end of class.
Of course, plenty of professors - engineering and otherwise - have long
been using Twitter. They tweet about interesting links they've come
across; they complain about their flight delays; they keep us updated on
their cats. But there are also professors who, like Neogi, have begun to
bring Twitter into the lecture hall or seminar room. [snip]
Gordon Snyder, who directs the National Center for Information and
Communications Technologies at Springfield Technical Community College
in Massachusetts, has also experimented with the back channel. He
assigned his class a "hashtag", [snip]
He also has found Twitter useful for getting a read on a room.
Professors are familiar with the inscrutable sight of a lecture hall
full of mute students. Are they listening? Understanding? Many
professors have adopted "clickers," polling devices used to quiz
students on a topic recently covered or to gauge students' opinions when
venturing into politically sensitive subject matter. Snyder, whose
center is funded by the National Science Foundation, considers Twitter a
"modern and much more effective" clicker.
Of course, skepticism in academia remains the norm ... . But Twitter
evangelists have ready answers for skeptics. Does it erase a necessary
distance between professor and student, eroding professional authority?
That depends on your view, says McDonald: If you think, "'Well, I'm the
teacher, and people just need to listen to what I have to say'... then
Twitter is not useful for you." Does Twitter distract students? "I see
it as a way to keep students engaged," says Snyder. Besides, some argue,
students often are already using these technologies in class; professors
are simply co-opting a tool that would otherwise serve as a distraction.
"If you can't beat 'em, might as well join 'em," sums up Kathy Schmidt,
director of the Faculty Innovation Center for the College of Engineering
at the University of Texas - Austin.
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!!! Thanks To My ISU Colleague / Dr. Jacob D. Schroeder / For The
As Previously Requested > I Am Greatly Interested In Any / All Library ;
Educational Uses / Applications Of Twitter / Other Microblogging
Technologies || Please Post As A Comment(s) On The Blog Entry ... Thanks
A Million !!!
Science and Technology Librarian
Iowa State University Library
Ames IA 50011
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