Tweet, tweet: Professors incorporate social media in #UDclassrooms
Published: Tuesday, September 10, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, September 10, 2013 17:09
Computer science professor Richard Gordon, manager of the IT communication group on campus, said he has used social media bookmarking sites and blogs in his classes before, but this semester, he is utilizing a new learning tool- Twitter.
“I’m really trying to use Twitter to generate a newsfeed for my students to follow,” Gordon said. “I put in a hashtag for my class, and whether they are Twitter users or not, they can follow that hashtag, and, if they do tweet, then they can participate.”
This semester, professors such as Gordon have turned to Twitter—a site oftentimes used as a distraction in class—to create an interactive learning experience in which students can use a specialized hashtag to follow tweets relevant to the class. A few other professors Gordon said he knows from the university’s business administration department have been using social media sites like Twitter in classes for a while now.
Other classes from various departments are utilizing Twitter, including classes in the communication department. Senior Chelsey Rodowicz said communication professors, such as Scott Caplan, encourage their students to tweet.
Rodowicz, a teaching assistant for professor Carolyn Bartoo’s Introduction to Public Relations class, said this semester is the first time Bartoo is incorporating Twitter into the class itself. Bartoo plans to designate different jobs to students for the class, she said. The ultimate goal is for students to apply their skills in public relations, Rodowicz said.
“Six people will have a job each class,” Rodowicz said. “Someone like a trend spotter is going to be searching Twitter throughout the class to find specific trends that are being talked about.”
Bartoo could not be reached for comment.
Senior Cynthia Costello, a student in Bartoo’s class, said she has taken two classes with Bartoo previously. Bartoo’s classes go beyond incorporating Twitter by using a wide range of social media websites, with the class tentatively using Skype next week to talk to someone from a public relations agency, Costello said.
“[Social media’s] really a supplement to our field, but not only because we’re communication majors,” she said. “I think that it would be beneficial in another field as well.”
Junior Jennifer Osber said she also took a marketing class last semester, where her professor used Twitter.
“At the beginning of each class, we’d spend 10 or 15 minutes going over current events that had to do with marketing, and we all followed her on Twitter,” she said. “She would tweet about them, or if we found anything interesting we could tweet them at her. It worked out really well.”
Spanish and Latin American Studies professor Phillip Penix-Tadsen said he uses social media in all of his classes. Two of his courses are called Media Savvy Populism, along with New Media and New Directions.
“In the one class, we’ve used it to actually study the content of social media used by Latin American politicians on their Twitter and Facebook,” Penix-Tadsen said. “We kind of look at anything that’s being used by Latin Americans.”
Penix-Tadsen said he also uses Facebook as a teaching tool. Facebook is an alternative way for students to participate as it extends the class discussion outside of the classroom, he said. In particular, Penix-Tadsen said garnering class discussion on Facebook caters to students who are less willing to speak up in a foreign language in class.
Second Ph.D candidate Julie Wise said she also uses social media as a way for her students, including the pre-service teachers that she teaches, to introduce the concept of professional learning networks.
“Teachers, professionals and entrepreneurs build these relationships online, and it’s a wonderful way to figure out what’s going on across the country and across the world,” Wise said.
Wise said she uses Twitter to see what other teachers are reading. She participates in what’s known as “Twitter Chats,” which is similar to instant messaging, she said. In “Twitter Chats,” authors will pick the same day each week to engage in conversation through tweets, retweets and replies.
“A lot of authors will pick the same time each week, and you just sit there, and you watch what other people are tweeting and you can retweet what they say,” she said.
Some professors might be hesitant about using social media because students might not be educated about how to use it, Costello said. She said she thinks there has been a lot of debate about the benefits of social media and, if used correctly, it can be extremely beneficial.
While some schools expect people to use social media, Wise said she likes that the university provides a balance. They expect students and teachers to do research, which is more traditional, she said. However, it is important to keep in mind that social media use might depend on the circumstances, Wise said.
“I think my two biggest points with social media are, number one, you have to have a balance, and number two, I really think you have to let your curriculum drive your choices with the technology you use,” Wise said.