Jun 2, 2009

Howard Rheingold Discusses Teaching with Twitter

From U.S. News & World Report

Twitter Goes to College

Students and professors use the micro-blogging service to communicate inside and outside the classroom

By Zach Miners

At the University of Texas-Dallas, history professor Monica Rankin needed a better way to get students involved in the classroom. The 90-person lecture hall was too big for back-and-forth conversation. So, with help from students in the school's emerging media program, she had her students set up accounts on Twitter—a micro-blogging service—and then use the technology to post messages and ask questions that were displayed on a projector screen during class. Rankin says that although the technology has its limitations, the experiment encouraged students to participate who otherwise would not have done so....

Howard Rheingold, who teaches at the University of California-Berkeley and Stanford University, was an early adopter of Twitter and often turns to it for teaching advice. He explains to his digital journalism students how to use the site to establish a network of sources and, using tweets, how to entice those sources to follow them in return. In his social media course, he has his students employ Twitter for what he describes as "student-to-teacher-to-student ambient office hours."

Bringing sites like Twitter into an academic environment is a teaching style that has seen a fair share of criticism. Some say that restricting users to 140-character blurbs ruins students' writing skills and destroys their attention spans.

Rheingold says that how useful Twitter is depends on the individual person. "If you want to share information in small bites with a group of people who share your interest," he says, "that's what it's for."


Last updated:

October 4, 2016