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Engaging Secondary and Higher Education Students in the Learning Process Using Twitter
Sloan-C (2011)
  • Amanda J. Rockinson-Szapkiw, Liberty University
  • Justin Tucker, Liberty University
Effectively engaging high school students in the learning process while ensuring strong pedagogically sound instruction ranks among one of the most critical issues facing secondary and higher education teachers today. Technology may be helpful in addressing this challenge. Technology when integrated into instruction in a pedagogically sound manner has been shown to enhance student engagement and productivity in the learning process (Means, Blando, Olson, Middleton, Morocco, Remz, & Zorfass, 1993). Further, Chen, Lambert, and Guidry (2010) demonstrated in their study that is a relationship between learning outcomes, student engagement, and students' use of Web-based learning technology exists. Among the numerous interactive and collaborative technologies available to educators today, social media is being increasingly recognized as an effective tool for engaging students with one another, with the instructor, and with content. Social media can be used to not only engage secondary students but also curb the traditionalist comprehension based model and encourage higher level thinking throughout the learning process. Twitter, a social media, is one technology that educators can use to engage students and encourage higher order thinking. Twitter is a free social media website that allows users to interact via "tweets" using Smartphones, laptops, or any device with internet access. The goal of this presentation will be to equip secondary and post-secondary educators with the skills and techniques necessary for effective integration of Twitter into curriculum and instruction. As such, this presentation will briefly discuss the importance of engagement and how technology can be used to support engagement. The primary focus of the session will then be how to set up a Twitter account for educational use; and how to use Twitter as a platform for discussion, polling, question and answer sessions, and other collaborative interactions in a secondary classroom. An example application discussion will be how to quiz and poll using Twitter. The advantage of using twitter over traditional class polling and quizzing will be highlighted. Traditionally, teachers have done informal student in class assessment in the classroom by asking students to raise their hand to answer a poll or quiz question. Although useful, often this method only engages a few students. Twitter can be used for instant quizzing and polling of all students in a class. Although Twitter does not have a native quizzing feature, educators can incorporate programs into Twitter such as Poll Everywhere ( that allow educators to add quizzing and polling options within Twitter. Using this feature, educators can ask students a question and have them tweet answers the question. All students can answer and if the classroom has, a screen with a computer, answers can be projected via a screen for everyone to see. An alternative method suggested by Matteson (2010) is to assign a discussion topic to small groups and have one student from each group tweet a summary of their discussion. Outside of class applications of Twitter will also be reviewed. For example, how students can tweet throughout the course to review material, to complete homework, to find clarification on confusing or difficult subject matter, or to establish any number of other educational interactions will be reviewed. And, how to use Twitter features such as hashtags to organize these kinds of tweets will be demonstrated. Twitter defines a hashtag as, "The # symbol, called a hashtag, is used to mark keywords or topics in a Tweet. It was created organically by Twitter users as a way tocategorize messages" ("What Are Hashtags ['#' Symbols]", n.d.). If, for example, students are discussing mobile education, keywords that could be used for hashtags could include #mobileEd, #software, and/or #mobileResources. These hashtags could be established during class to maintain consistency for topics, so when students want to do a quick search of student tweets for a specific topic such as mobile resources, they can search in Twitter using #mobileResources and find every tweet that included that hashtag. Twitter has great potential for making secondary educational experiences engaging for learners and to enhance the traditional approaches to teaching and learning can be enhanced by incorporating Twitter into the learning environment. The potential of Twitter's educational use to assit educators in meeting the challenge of engaging technologically savvy learners will be explored in this presentation.
Publication Date
November, 2011
Citation Information
Amanda J. Rockinson-Szapkiw and Justin Tucker. "Engaging Secondary and Higher Education Students in the Learning Process Using Twitter" Sloan-C (2011)
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