Tag Archives: Smartphones

An investigation into the use of Twitter in teaching.

David Strafford
@davidstrafford

Parallel session 1, Short Paper 1.8


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Short Abstract
This presentation will review an exploratory study examining the opportunities and challenges of using Twitter as an integral part of the teaching on two Events Management modules. Particularly, it explores whether students would actively engage with course content on Twitter to enhance their learning experience and underpin the teaching from the classroom.

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Detailed Outline
The modern student has access to knowledge and information at their fingertips like never before. Ownership of smartphones, tablets and laptops is prevalent amongst the modern day digital learner, with information, knowledge and feedback being demanded faster and faster. Interaction on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest is growing as a result of increased demand for social connectivity. The modern day tutor needs to reflect on this, as to whether these platforms can be tools for teaching.

If students actively and voluntarily spend their time interacting on social media with peers, then it is natural for tutors to ask whether they can engage their students with learning on these same platforms. Therefore as part of the delivery of two Events Management modules, Twitter was used to underpin the learning from the more traditional classroom based teaching. The vehicle was a weekly ‘tweetchat’ hour where tutors and students could come together on Twitter to discuss course related topics. These tweetchats were not compulsory or assessed, they merely supported course material and provided wider background reading through interesting links, articles and videos.

The tweetchat topics loosely followed a particular module’s lecture topics: in Semester One, the Level 4 Events Foundation was chosen and in Semester Two, the Level 5 Charity Events and Fundraising module was utilised. A bespoke Twitter handle was created (@SHUeventschat) and the hashtag #SHUeventschat was used in all tweets during the tweetchats. Storify was used to summarise the tweetchat conversations each week. At the end of each module a quantitative research survey was conducted to establish students’ views on Twitter being used as part of their teaching, with some further qualitative interviews also conducted to delve deeper with particularly engaged students. The results of that research are presented here, couple with recommendations for future use.

Using smart phones and tablets to support learning (2014)

Anne Nortcliffe & Andrew Middleton

If 87% of students own a smart device (Armstrong, 2012) and over 1,300 members of staff have connected their personal devices to the University’s email server, it is likely that the way staff and students engage with life, their practice and study is changing too.

In January 2014 university-wide surveys of staff and students were conducted about their usage of personal smart devices. Respondents were invited to describe how their devices are enhancing their practice.

The results are being analysed, however based upon earlier work (e.g. Nortcliffe et al., 2013; Nortcliffe & Middleton, 2012) a steady growth in the use of devices like iPhones and iPads by staff and students is expected.

Many will not use the devices directly for teaching and learning, but will use them to manage all aspects of their life or to make arrangements with peers to do course work. Some will have changed important aspects of their academic practice or study life: using email, accessing Blackboard, for example. Some will report using photographs taken on their smart phones or audio feedback recorded as they mark work on their tablets.

For others, smart technology will have changed teaching and learning significantly. Many staff report using the Socrative app to muster student feedback in presentations, for example. Other affordable apps are being used to provide augmented reality simulations. Other innovative students report using video apps to record and post reflective commentaries. Social media, such as Twitter, Facebook and blogging is now a regular part of a student’s informal or formal engagement with university life.

Our previous research has shown that students are embracing the smart devices to support their learning by seeking out useful apps to help them be more organised, productive, collaborative and scholarly (Woodcock et al., 2012a; Woodcock, 2012b).

The 2014 survey of staff and students will create a rich picture to inspire others and to help the University meet their needs.

Hand outs will be provided to share good, emerging practice.