October 21, 2012

Tweet, Tweetly-Tweet

On October 18, 2012, redOrbit published an article about Twitter use in the college classroom. The article identified that in a study done at  Michigan State University, researcher and assistant professor of education, Christine Greenhow, found that “the ‘real-time’ nature of Twitter allows students and professors to collaborate and communicate quickly, as well as share information, such as Web sites or videos with incredible ease.” The article also stated that Twitter helped students learn about conciseness in writing because of the constraints of Twitter—140-character limit.

Okay, now we have the set-up, here goes the reaction. Let me first establish my own ethos in this discussion. I am an associate professor of English. I teach Composition I and II as well as Creative Writing and various literature classes. I teach in various formats from traditional to blended to online to traditional classes with some online work. I deal with writing every day from other people as well as what I am writing personally. Words are my profession and passion. Right then, now you can trust me.

I have a two-pronged reaction to this information from MSU. I want to get the negative one out of the way first. It’s not that it isn’t as valid as my positive response; rather, I feel like my positive response is stronger. Nonetheless, I do have a twinge of a negative reaction. My reaction has to do with Greenhow’s findings that “her students will interact through the micro-blogging service more than they would in a typical face-to-face setting.” I like that students are finding ways to interact in class and with their professors. I also love technology and how wonderfully it can supplement a classroom. I do not like the idea that technology may be more important than face-to-face interaction.

This is problematic. You see, only a small portion of the working population lives in this virtual world whereby they only communicate via social media, blogging, and other electronic modes. If students are in college classrooms where they are allowed to solely communicate electronically, we are not doing an adequate job of preparing them for the world outside of academia. Perhaps some day the world will communicate only by the electronic written word. That’s not today, nor will it be tomorrow.

My other negative reaction to this is I love the spontaneity of the face-to-face classroom where people have to bravely speak up and risk something in learning. Our educations are precious and worth that courage.

Okay, so now onto my positive responses. Though a part of me is concerned about what we might propagate through this technology, the rest of me is way excited about it. I love technology and all its enhancements to the classroom. I often use social media to communicate with my students, to show videos, to connect them to the materials they are learning. I have not used Twitter before but that’s because I wasn’t quite sure how to incorporate. it This article has sparked some inspiration in me.

Image Credit: wavebreakmedia / Shutterstock

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Rayshell E. Clapper is an Associate Professor of English at a rural college in Oklahoma where she teaches Creative Writing, Literature, and Composition classes. She has presented her original fiction and non-fiction at several conferences and events including: Scissortail Creative Writing Festival, Howlers and Yawpers Creativity Symposium, Southwest/Texas Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association Regional Conference, and Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association National Conference. Her publications include Cybersoleil Journal, Sugar Mule Literary Magazine, Red Dirt Anthology, Originals, and Oklahoma English Journal. Beyond her written works, she successfully created a writer's group in rural Oklahoma to support burgeoning writers. The written word is her passion, and all she experiences inspires that passion. She hopes to help inspire others through her words.

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