Twitter is used for an abundance of different purposes, from keeping up to date with celebrity gossip to organising revolutions and riots. There has also been the argument that the truncated nature of communication used on the micro-blogging site (140 character limit in tweets) is having a detrimental effect on literacy and writing ability. However, one study shows that Twitter may actually be helping students.
An assistant professor of education at Michigan State University discovered that when her students used Twitter as part of their education, they were more engaged and attained higher grades. In her study “Twitteracy: Tweeting as a New form of Literary Practice”, Christina Greenhow described how she taught a class that required all of the students to have a Twitter account.
The students used their accounts in different ways over the course of the semester. Greenhow noticed that their engagement was higher than before when they weren’t using Twitter. Speaking of her findings, she said “Students get more engaged because they feel it is connected to something real, that it’s not just learning for the sake of learning…”
A similar study in 2010 revealed that students at Pennsylvania University also benefited from using Twitter, having shown more engagement and scoring higher grades.
However there are others who believe that the use of social media will pose more of a distraction for some, and there is also the concern about the privacy of using Twitter. One former college instructor asked “Do educators have a responsibility to protect students from making mistakes that will be forever recorded and searchable?”
Of course we all know that Twitter actually only stores your latest 3000 tweets and that their search only goes back 5 days so it’s not quite forever recorded or searchable … unless you’ve got SocialSafe that is.
What is your opinion on this? Do you think Twitter – and other social platforms – can be a valuable asset to education, or are they a distraction. We’d love to hear from any of you who are in the teaching profession or who are students that have a point of view to share on this topic.