Social media has become a prominent force in today’s society, and Twitter is becoming more and more popular as a way to communicate and engage with others in 140 characters or less. Although some people may think of Twitter as a distraction and a hindrance to good academic performance, the use of the social media platform can in fact enhance college students’ learning environment. Twitter, like all social media platforms, is designed for users to create and share content. The company’s mission statement is “to give everyone the power to create and share ideas and information instantly, without barriers” (Twitter, n.d.). According to Business Insider, the popular social media platform is commonly used for entertainment, technology, music, sports, and food, but Twitter can also be used for educational purposes used by both faculty and students alike. In a world that’s rapidly experiencing a technological shift, colleges and universities must keep up by using Twitter to enhance students’ academic performances.
Twitter, when used properly, can be an extremely powerful tool used to increase student engagement, which is linked to improved grades. Thirty-seven percent of all Twitter users are between the ages of 18 and 29 (Omnicore, 2017), making it one of the most commonly used platforms among college students. When students are only in class for a limited number of time during the week, faculty needs to find a way to keep students engaged. In a study done with 125 pre-health majors at Lock Haven University who had never used Twitter before, 70 students were randomly assigned to use Twitter for educational purposes while the remaining 55 only used traditional methods. After the one-semester study, researchers concluded that the 70 students using Twitter were nearly twice as much engaged as their counterparts, and those 70 students had a GPA that was 0.51 higher than the 55 using traditional forms of learning (Blackwell Publishing, 2010). The ways students used Twitter were to continue class discussions online, ask and answer questions, engage with other students and professors, organize study groups, and be alerted for class reminders.
This study proves that when used in a meaningful way, Twitter enhances the academic experience for students. Since 82% of Twitter users engage with the app via mobile devices (Twitter, n.d.), information and resources are at students’ fingertips. Twitter, which by nature requires active participation, is faster and more modern than traditional e-mail. It engages students no matter where they are and is a supplement to in-class lectures and teachings. It is one of the world’s most popular sources for public dialogue, and the discussion can continue from the classroom to online for college students. The use of Twitter in an academic setting is nothing to shy away from; in fact, faculty needs to continue to embrace the use of the popular social media platform and incorporate it into their teaching methods. In a social media class at Rutgers University, Professor Jason Llorenz assigned his course an official hashtag and taught students how to navigate the app before using it for class resources, assignments, and lectures (Huffington Post, 2014). In addition to traditional classroom methods, the use of Twitter to engage pupils and faculty outside of the classroom will increase students’ GPAs and overall engagement.
Author: Chandler Brandes (University of Vermont); sophomore at the University of Vermont majoring in Public Communication and double minoring in Coaching and Sports Management.
Advisor: Rob Williams, Ph.D. (University of Vermont); Professor of Media/Communications.
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