New research carried out by Edge Hill academics has shown that using Twitter as a learning tool to engage students may not be as effective as previously thought.
Dr Charles Knight, from the Edge Hill Business School, and Dr Lynda Kaye, from the School of Psychology, published a research paper on how social media has become increasingly important in the work of academics, and comparing this with how students use Twitter as a tool to further their education.
Dr Knight and Dr Kaye surveyed 153 undergraduate and postgraduate students about their personal use of Twitter, examining how often students use it to contact tutors, share information with peers and generally to further their own education. This was then compared with information on how academics use social media for shared academic knowledge, distribution of information, dialogue amongst peers and academic networking.
Their research has revealed that, despite the wealth of opportunity available for both academics and students in social networking sites, the majority of students use Twitter passively as part of their learning process and were far more likely to interact with their fellow students than teachers. In fact, ‘celebrity watching’ was found to be far more popular than following academics in their field.
Dr Knight and Dr Kaye found that academics were far more likely to use Twitter as a tool for teaching and learning than students were. Academics use Twitter frequently to share information, organise events, promote blogs and to network internationally.
Dr Lynda Kaye, Senior Lecturer in Psychology said:
“We found that academics were much more active in their use of Twitter, particularly in promoting research-based issues. Students, on the other hand, tended to be relatively passive, and tended not to actively use Twitter within the academic context. The disparity we observe implies that Twitter is currently not the most effective platform through which to engage students within their university course.”
Their research also raises the question of how academics can improve their use of Twitter to further engage students in the future, suggesting options such as live lecture broadcasts, hosted debates, practical support and course updates.
Dr Kaye said: “As is the case with all technological platforms, Twitter’s development may result in greater potential for its use in improving tutor-student partnerships in the future.”