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How College Professors Are Using Twitter to Re-Engage Their Students

College Professors Are Using Twitter

In today’s college classrooms the sound of furious note-scribbling has been replaced by clacking on keyboards and tapping on tablets. Thanks to the ubiquity of WiFi on campuses, it’s not just note-taking that’s been given a 21st-century update. Professors and students alike are constantly online, both inside and out of lecture halls around the globe, and rather than this being simply a distraction, the Internet is being put to good use as the incredibly powerful online learning tool it should be.

Twitter, in particular, is fast becoming a staple in the contemporary classroom thanks to creative implementation of the unique 140-character and #hashtag based medium.

See also : 20 Terrific Twitter Chats for Every Kind of Educator

7 Ways Twitter is Enhancing the 21st-Century College Classroom

From the fairly mundane dissemination of class materials to the brilliant augmentation of ongoing lectures, here’s how professors are using tweets to enhance their courses:

  1. Updates : From posting links to updated syllabi and lecture notes to reminding students about upcoming assignments, professors are using Twitter streams and hashtags to keep students in the loop. This instant outreach allows students to respond immediately with questions while keeping the course top-of-mind.
  2. Test-Prep and Extra Credit : Professors can post test-prep questions before and after lectures to reinforce key points or get students thinking about a topic before it’s time for a face-to-face discussion. To boost engagement on Twitter, these questions might appear at the end of tests as extra credit or as separate extra-credit assignments, giving tweeters an edge.
  3. Live Question-and-Answer Sessions : Going beyond traditional office hours and freeing up class time that would have been used for review, professors are taking Q&A sessions online. Many professors are taking this idea to the next level with help from TAs during lectures. Instead of interrupting a lecture for clarification, students tweet questions that the entire class can see and receive answers from the TA, allowing the professors to finish thoughts and cover everything they need to. There are no stupid questions, but not every question needs to lead to an in-class filibuster. TAs can moderate, engage students, provide useful links to related articles and speak up when good points are raised.
  4. Interaction Beyond the Classroom : A lot of people are on Twitter. By encouraging students to follow experts, professionals working related fields, news and media sources and even professors teaching the same subject at other schools, professors take classroom discussion to a global level. The best part? Rather than just passively reading articles by or about these experts, professionals and celebrities, students can actually engage with them – and get a response. Along the same lines, the professors themselves are using Twitter to network, bringing other opinions to the classroom, broadening student experience and starting conversations that lead to guest lecturers (both virtual and in person).
  5. Personal Branding. In today’s job market, personal branding goes a long way, and with employers increasingly asking applicants to share social media profiles, having a Twitter stream with something more professional than tweets about what’s for breakfast gives these employers exactly what they want while also encouraging students to take an interest in current events in their chosen field. By engaging with experts, students not only spruce up their Twitter stream, they also get a valuable online education out of the discussion that might not have been possible inside a lecture hall.
  6. Concise Writing : Twitter’s 140-character limit is being utilized to teach students that concise writing really is important. From rapid-fire class discussion to Twitter-based assignments, students are forced to distill their thoughts — a useful skill in any field.
  7. Keeping the Conversation Going : Perhaps most importantly, Twitter keeps the conversation going outside of the classroom. Whenever students get online, they’re reminded about the class specifically or the subject generally because of all the novel techniques mentioned above. This allows topics to transcend the classroom, turning Twitter into an online schooling experience like no other.

These aren’t the only ways tweeting is enhancing the contemporary classroom. Professors are also using Twitter analytics as study tools, having students track trending topics or analyze the math behind viral tweets. With new ways to use to use Twitter cropping up all the time, it seems the sky, not 140 characters, is the limit.

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Guest Author : Karl Fendelander cut his teeth on web writing in the late nineties and has been plugged in to the newest technology and tuned in to the latest trends ever since. With an eye for design and an ear for language, Karl has created content and managed digital media for startups and established companies alike.

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