Tweeting in the Classroom Could Benefit Shy Students


tweeterBy Hannah Anderson, Assistant Editor

While Twitter is not commonly associated with academia, results of a study conducted by two Australian researchers may make teachers re-evaluate the way they perceive the social network.

Jeremy Novak, a lecturer at Southern Cross University, and Dr. Michael Cowling of Central Queensland University, recently studied the use of Twitter in the classroom as a way for students to anonymously give feedback and ask questions during a lecture without having to speak in front of their classmates.

They found that students liked using Twitter to interact with the professor during lectures, particularly students who felt intimidated by speaking in front of a large class. These “shy” students were more likely to engage in classroom discussion using this annonymous form of feedback. However, the study also said that lecturers’ lack of technical knowledge was sometimes an issue.

“By using Twitter, simply as a ticker bar at the bottom of the lecturer’s power point presentation, students can ask questions anonymously, no matter how stupid they think their question is, and not get embarrassed,” Novak says in a Southern Cross University press release.

But, don’t worry. Old-fashioned hand raising isn’t going anywhere soon.

“This is not something that would be used by all students, but rather is just another way for lecturers or teachers to get feedback during a class,” Novak says.

One of the main issues with this method of feedback was the staff’s knowledge of how to use Twitter.

“We found that lecturers used the feedback of Twitter to amend their teaching style and provide a response to queries and comments. However, one of the major findings of the research was that the technical competencies of staff emerged as a real issue for the implementation of Twitter in the classroom,” Novak says.

While the study was conducted at the University level, Novak says teachers across all levels of education have the opportunity to use Twitter in the classroom.

“Obviously you would want all students to have access to the technology, while teachers would also have to be savvy with the technology, but if those things were overcome there is no reason this could not be used to augment teaching methods.”

Novak says he hopes the use of new methods of interaction will lead to increased participation in the classroom.

“Hopefully it would lead to fewer passengers in the classroom and allow those students who are less likely to engage with teachers, for social or cultural reasons, to participate.”