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.