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Technology could lead to Tweets in the classroom


Steve Spinks
16 January 2012
Teachers should not be afraid of the technology boom associated with Generation Y, according to a researcher from Southern Cross University.

Jeremy Novak, a lecturer with the Southern Cross Business School, along with Central Queensland University’s Dr Michael Cowling, looked into the implementation of Twitter as a way for students to ask questions and give feedback during lectures. The research was presented at the ISANA International Education Association Conference recently.

The research found that students were happy to embrace Twitter as a way of interacting during a lecture, particularly those students who often found it difficult to ask questions in front of a large class, however the technical competency of the lectures emerged as an issue.

“We wanted to see if there was a way for students to ask questions without having to put their hands up,” Mr Novak said.

“We found, particularly with international students, that there were plenty of times when students were too embarrassed or didn’t want to lose face by asking questions in front a group.

“By using Twitter, simply as a ticker bar at the bottom of the lecturer’s power point presentation, students can ask questions anonymously, no matter how stupid they think their question is, and not get embarrassed.

“This is not something that would be used by all students, but rather is just another way for lecturers or teachers to get feedback during a class.

“We found that lecturers used the feedback of Twitter to amend their teaching style and provide a response to queries and comments. However one of the major findings of the research was that the technical competencies of staff emerged as a real issue for the implementation of Twitter in the classroom.”

While the study was undertaken within the environment of a University, Mr Novak suggests classrooms across the different levels of education could implement Twitter and technology to their advantage.

“Obviously you would want all students to have access to the technology, while teachers would also have to be savvy with the technology, but if those things were overcome there is no reason this could not be used to augment teaching methods,” he said.

“Twitter is another exciting teaching aide that is highly underutilised by lecturers and teachers in the education sector. Hopefully it would lead to less ‘passengers’ in the classroom and allow those students who are less likely to engage with teachers, for social or cultural reasons, to participate.”

Photo: Jeremy Novak