Can Twitter microblogging lead to higher retention?

Cheryl Boncuore, Academic Director at Kendall College in Chicago
Aurora Dawn Reinke, Assistant Professor at Kendall College in Chicago

Kendall instituted an experiment with faculty to implement social media in pedagogically sound ways. The college allowed the use of social media in class and beyond; tied use to institutional mission, programmatic learning outcomes and class objectives. They conducted the experiment with 10 professors, used 13 hashtags, and 276 students.

Kendall learned from the microblogging experiment that it is a great way to…

  • Prompt student research.
  • Connect with leaders in the industry and build relationships.
  • Engage students and faculty (some students that may not normally talk in face-to-face classrooms, may feel comfortable using social media instead).
  • Affirm student knowledge (followers, retweets, favorites).
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Lessons learned and what Kendall will do differently next time…

  • Provide more training for students and faculty; how to use hash tags and mention use.
  • Explain to students better the advantages of using Twitter; only takes a few seconds, short, and to the point.
  • Don’t assume all Gen Y students are not afraid of doing it “wrong.” Encourage them to participate without fear of being penalized for not tweeting correctly.
  • Do not use Twitter to remind students of homework as it will result in a negative reaction from students.

Tips to integrate Twitter into your class…

  • Come up with a list of topics for hashtags to use in tweets and find reliable information.
  • Have students follow you (the instructor). The instructor may also want to also follow the student. Encourage students to create a professional (not personal) account.
  • Encourage students to find great resources and share URL.

Results…

Students felt more connected with instructors, peers, and those in the industry.

Useful Twitter tools…

  • Twitonomy analytics is a tool used to see statistics on students’ twitter accounts (number of tweets, replies, retweets, mentions, and even the devices used).
  • Hootsuite.com is a social media dashboard to manage and measure your social networks. It allows faculty to schedule tweets and have multiple feeds.
  • Tinyurl.com is one of many sites used to shorten URLs to help meet the limited 140 characters.

Use #teachwithtwitter so that we can learn from each other.

For students using assistive technologies, Easy Chirp is a third-party web-based Twitter interface. It is a web-accessible application meaning that it’s optimized for disabled users.

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About clkautz
Affiliate Faculty School of Computing and Information Systems Grand Valley State University

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