Twitter is widely used by undergraduate students, and this session will present a case study of its adoption to support students on three undergraduate modules. We will consider the use of Twitter in-class to facilitate discussion, feedback and collaboration, particularly in large-group teaching, where discussion can be difficult to initiate and make inclusive.  We will also see that Twitter provides great opportunities to extend traditional classroom boundaries, considering two ways in which this is so. First, it offers a replacement to email communication that promotes more collaborative, dialogue-based interaction, closer to that which occurs within the face-to-face classroom environment. Second, in so doing, it provides enhanced opportunities for continuous student feedback and intervention-based support. In short, we will see how Twitter encourages student engagement within and between classes, promoting students’ self-led, peer-supported learning.

The session will benefit all colleagues who teach and who want to encourage collaborative learning amongst their students both within and outside the classroom. We will show how easy it is to get started with Twitter, even for staff and students who have never used the platform, and delegates will leave with some hints and tips to get started, whether or not they have used Twitter before. Staff who handle lots of email enquiries from students, or those who have had (unsuccessful) experience of using discussion boards may find the session of particular interest because it will offer an alternative approach to working that is both more time efficient and effective.

Colleagues will leave with ideas for using Twitter in their own learning and teaching practice.  More specifically, they will have considered how Twitter might support group teaching, and large groups - e.g. lectures - in particular, where it can be difficult to build in student interaction other than by resorting to small group activity within the large group context. Delegates will also see how the social network can improve their efficiency in interacting and communicating with students, and perceived availability to them, whilst - apparently paradoxically - freeing up time by reducing teaching admin outside the classroom.  Practical suggestions on how to get started and avoid some common initial problems will be offered, as well as access to screencasts after the session to help delegates transfer the ideas into their own modules.

Questions?  Comments?  Want to find out more?  Get in touch!

Gary C. Wood
Enterprise Education Developer
University of Sheffield Enterprise