Washington | Twitter, if used properly, may become a teaching tool so effective that students look forward to using it in class and continue to seek out new information with it after the school day ends, researchers say. The study shows the potential benefits of using Twitter as a pedagogical tool based on survey results, interviews, and classroom observations of eighth-grade students in science classes, according to researchers from University of Vermont in the US.
Students reported significant increases in four key areas that contributed to their learning – exposure to reputable science and leaders, in real time; a broadening of the audience for their work outside the classroom; more opportunities for connecting science to their own lives; and new ways to communicate about science. Researchers used middle school science classes to conduct the study.
95 per cent of students agreed or strongly agreed that Twitter enabled them to follow real science in real time as it develops around the world. Particularly motivating was the ability to interact via Twitter with leading organisations such as NASA, and science-related programmes, researchers said. NASA, and scientists that I follow, tweet a lot about cool science stuff, said one student.
Researchers suggested to another student who was interested in black holes that she reach out via Twitter to well known and popular astrophysicist Katie Mack. Mack tweeted back to the student and included her in a conversation about black holes with other experts and students, researchers said.
The study found that 93 per cent of students surveyed think Twitter enabled them to interact and share perspectives with a global audience outside the classroom. When I have something important to share about science that I like, as many as 52 people (Twitter followers) can see what I tweet instantly, said one student.
Another student said they use Twitter for academic support by tweeting with other students about concepts, assignments and projects, researchers said. As many as 91 per cent said Twitter helped them make connections between science and their own lives and interests, they said.
Twitter has made me think about things that I like and had me think about the science related to them, said one student. Others said Twitter helped them learn about science in new ways that related to their everyday lives, researchers said. Around 81 per cent of students agreed that Twitter helped them think creatively about new ways to communicate science, they said.
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