Read Write Web has a really interesting post about a Twitter experiment in which a University of Texas History Professor, Monica Rankin, uses Twitter in a classroom environment to discuss the class topics.
Rankin uses a weekly hashtag to organize comments, questions and feedback posted by students to Twitter during class. Some of the students have downloaded Tweetdeck to their computers, others post by SMS or by writing questions on a piece of paper. Rankin then projects a giant image of live Tweets in the front of the class for discussion and suggests that students refer back to the messages later when studying. The Professor’s results so far have been mixed but it is clear that more students are participating in classroom discussions than they used to.
I think this is a fantastic way of generating bigger discussions and it gives students the opportunity to refer back to what was said and continue to contribute after the session. This then builds up a really useful study aid for when students need to compile coursework or prepare for exams. As a rather quiet student I think I’d have been much more vocal on something like Twitter as I find it much easy to get my written point across than my vocal one.
At my organisation we have introduced an Echo 360 system in which lectures get recorded and published within a student’s virtual learning environment alongside all the teaching materials used in class to ‘rewind, relive and reconnect with the classroom experience’. Twitter could in fact be another great way for us to do this and something I would definitely encourage academics to get involved with.