What s happening students use of twitter in a social media seminar
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‘What’s happening?’: Students’ use of Twitter in a Social Media seminar. Nicola Pallitt PhD student (Centre for Film & Media Studies) Web content & communications (Centre for Open Learning) Survivor Social Media seminar facilitator July 2012. Twitter for teaching.

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What s happening students use of twitter in a social media seminar

‘What’s happening?’: Students’ use of Twitter in a Social Media seminar

Nicola Pallitt

PhD student (Centre for Film & Media Studies)

Web content & communications (Centre for Open Learning)

Survivor Social Media seminar facilitator

July 2012

Twitter for teaching
Twitter for teaching

  • Example of integration of social media in higher education (HE)

    • Discuss benefits & challenges RE integrating Twitter into HE teaching and learning activities.

  • Online classroom community

  • Twitter as ‘backchannel’

  • Media education

    • challenge for educators who wish to develop Twitter as media practice and encourage its journalistic use

Appropriating twitter
Appropriating Twitter

  • What is Twitter?

  • Twitter VS LMSs

  • Twitter is a public social media platform not intentionally designed for educational use

  • Can disrupt traditional models of teaching and learning in interesting ways

Twitter in the classroom
Twitter in the classroom

  • Uses of #hashtags

  • In class with tweet screen

    • See video of US History lecturer Dr Rankin using Twitter for class discussions

  • What if you don’t use a tweet screen?

  • Can it work with a smaller class?

  • Different subject?

  • Media Studies seminar = Using social media to teach social media...

Twitter for media students
Twitter for media students

  • Part of the modern journalist’s toolkit

  • Students can exercise their “writing rights” (Kress, 2004)

  • Good way for media students to practise writing lead sentences and headlines

  • Journos see it as an important skill that needs to be taught

  • VS disconnected lecturers

Twitter in the seminar
Twitter in the seminar...

  • 2nd year Media Studies students doing writing & editing in the media course

  • 21 students

  • 1x a week, 2 hours

  • 10% for tweeting about social media news and current events

  • Sharing ‘newsworthy’ information

  • Aim = reflexive practice: using social media to study social media


  • TAGS script in Google spreadsheets for archival of tweets with class #

  • Also used Archivist & NodeXL

  • Ethical issue: harvesting tweets for research

  • This paper is based on student tweets for the first 6 weeks of the seminar

  • 668 tweets were coded – 8 categories

  • Interviewed students as a class


  • Categories:

    • Social media:#FAM2000F Awesome infographic about which social media to use and when to use it http://t.co/rLQ7ptbK

    • Current events: Boys videotape horrific gang rape | News24 http://t.co/ErJtoGuz #FAM2000F

    • Entertainment news: Lady Gaga Attacked By Eating Disorder Association!Read more here ---> http://t.co/xZfjVJPu #FAM2000F

What s happening students use of twitter in a social media seminar

  • UCT news: via @GreenCampus_UCT: "Photography Competition (Green Week 2012)" Tomorrow from 01:00 to 04:00. Show us your skills and upload... #fam2000f

  • Interesting link or fact: Today's Google Doodle is a tribute to Eadweard J. Muybridge, one of the first film and motion picture pioneers. #FAM2000F

  • Seminar chatter: Busy with my presentation for #fam2000f , does anyone know if we have to make a power point with it? Or is it optional?

  • Self promotion: Fancy some MDNA? http://t.co/xdt6Lcrk via @wordpressdotcom new post up #FAM2000F

  • Personal: It’s funny how; The one person you'd take a bullet for...Tends to always be the one behind the gun.#fam2000f


  • Tweets per code also calculated as degree using NodeXL

  • Centrality/degree helps calculate which code was most popular across ALL participants

Classroom as community seminar chatter
Classroom as community: Seminar chatter

  • Students used Twitter to ask classmates for help, offer advice and maintain a sense of community.

  • From an educator’s perspective, these kinds of tweets helped me monitor the class’s questions and opinions.

  • During the interview with students, they pointed out that the course portal did not have a chatroom

  • Twitter for ‘just in time’ assistance from classmates & seminar facilitators

Self presentation and twitter as a youth space
Self presentation and Twitter as a youth space

  • Students’ existing Twitter practices influenced their seminar tweeting

  • ‘Twitter and bbm are the only things parents haven’t ruined’

  • ‘Branding’ one’s self on Twitter: tweets say something about you which creates a reputation to be upheld

  • Tweeting current events = ‘pretentious’ VS aspirational future career as journo

  • Gaming Twitter for followers and competing with friends over who has more followers as a marker of ‘coolness’ and popularity.

Newsworthy tweets what counts as news on twitter
‘Newsworthy’ tweets: What counts as ‘news’ on Twitter?

  • Old distinctions between hard and soft news blurred

  • Twitter users determine newsworthiness

    • depending on their personal interests and community of followers

  • ‘Current Events’ & ‘Entertainment News’ confusion

  • Fascination with overseas celebrities and news.

    • Default value of Twitter = entertainment

  • Few tweeted about current events in SA beyond the echelons of campus life.

  • Tweets related to local social issues and informed political engagement was a minority.

Conclusions re media edu
Conclusions RE Media Edu

  • Students need to develop an understanding of the kind of news being shared & how different genres of tweeting are used for particular communicative purposes.

  • Regarding content, entertainment news takes precedence over local current events.

  • Problematic to assume that students are apathetic, as they value their self-presentation.

  • Topics and genres of tweeting suggest different identities (such as the aspiring journalist) not celebrated in some students’ existing uses of the platform.

  • Genres of tweeting cannot be enforced, but students can be taught how to analyse as well as practice particular genres more efficiently.

Conclusions re higher ed
Conclusions RE Higher Ed

  • Domestication of social networking sites and existing social media practices can be seen as a constraint

  • Social media are not de facto learning communities, they come with ‘baggage’.

  • Their default uses prioritise entertainment and sociality.

  • Weigh up whether the use of Twitter as a backchannel for student-centred activities outweighs the ‘baggage’

Conclusions re higher ed1
Conclusions RE Higher Ed

  • OR discuss preferred uses with students in the beginning of the class to cultivate a more informed use of the platform.

  • Continuing debate - educators trying to tame social media, bringing it in from the wilds of sociality and domesticating it for teaching and learning purposes.

  • this comes with challenges as well as potential benefits.

How do you see the use of social media in education
How do YOU see the use of social media in education?