Can Twitter Enhance Active and Informal Learning?

Citation: Kassens-Noor E. Twitter as a teaching practice to enhance active and informal learning in higher education: the case of sustainable tweets. Active Learning in Higher Education 2012; 13:9-21.

Category: Social Media and Education

Commentary Written By: Livia Macedo, PharmD

Twitter can be a powerful collaboration tool.  It can also excite learners and enable critical thinking, rather than a mere distraction in education. Twitter has been used by several educators in the classroom. It can enhance student learning, by facilitating discussions live during the classroom by using “live-tweeting”. It can also be a tool for the student to communicate with the professor and other students outside the classroom setting.

Kassens-Noor, et al. describes Twitter used in the classroom.  Students in one group used Twitter, while the students in another group opted to use traditional diaries. The author mentions that tweets might have been a barrier for reflective thinking. While traditional teaching practices allowed for more in-depth thinking and self-reflective learning. Space limitation might have been a barrier to reflective writing with Twitter. The study found that tweeting fosters team communication and prolonged interactive engagement in the learning process. However, Twitter can constrain critical thinking and self-reflection because of the tweets’ character limit. Limitations with this study included a small sample size and short duration.

Twitter has potential to be a powerful tool in education to engage students in a particular subject matter and to share knowledge among peers by building a network, however, it may not be applicable to every course or assignment.  The instructor needs to use their own judgment of when to incorporate this tool in their course.

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2 thoughts on “Can Twitter Enhance Active and Informal Learning?

  1. Livia – have you thought about how we could use Twitter at the School of Pharmacy? How about a tweet chat for our asynchronous courses? Something to think about!
    Lynn

    • Lynn- I really like your idea of using tweet chat for asynchronous courses. I also think Twitter can be used to post a question to stimulate weekly discussions within a course. It can be used to post a recently published article and ask for critiques of that article. We can also encourage students to follow pharmacy in Twitter to keep up with pharmacy updates such as @drug_topics,@FDA_Drug_Info, @Pharmacy_Times, @UpToDate

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