In a larger lecture classroom, it can be impossible to facilitate participation with even a few students – and infinitely more impossible to get an entire class of a couple hundred to chime in as well. And if you have students who may be on the shyer-side, then forget about it. Classroom settings often present a one-to-many form of conversation, so trying to develop a one-to-one or many-to-many conversation in an educational context can be a challenge.
Increasingly, however, more educators are utilizing Twitter during class to increase participation and overcome classroom shyness. With this classroom development, students are able to submit comments (or–since it is Twitter–“tweet”) by laptop or cellphone. The educator can then respond to any questions/comments via a real-time feed in the classroom.
In addition to overcoming the previous shyness barrier, studies have found that the utilization of Twitter and similar forms of social media in the classroom have led to stronger academic performance and an increased likelihood of students continuing discussion outside the classroom.
Incorporating more social media outlets into classrooms seems like it could be a practical decision. As noted, improvements in academic performance have already been found. Last semester, several classes at Purdue University implemented social media into lectures and as a result students were more engaged and asking more relevant questions. For classes, social media is also an inexpensive route to try, as Twitter and other sites like Facebook and LinkedIn continue to be free to create an account for.