Now Trending; AEC's Meyers brings social media giant Twitter to classroom
While a national survey found that only a slim slice of U.S. university instructors use Twitter, that most popular of short-form messaging, some Texas Tech professors have no qualms about jumping aboard the social media express.
Courtney Meyers, an assistant professor in Tech's Department of Agricultural Education and Communications, has already made tweeting a part of her cutting-edge curriculum. The wildly popular instant messaging system lets a person send brief text messages up to 140 characters in length to a list of followers.
In her summer class for "Utilizing Emerging Media in Agricultural Communications," Meyers had her students tweet at least three times a week with the class' hashtag and something relevant to the course, such as sharing resources, answering another student's tweet or re-tweeting a relevant story. Hashtags are words or phrases prefixed with the symbol "#."
"I started using Twitter in summer of 2010 when we taught the course for the first time," Meyers said. "It was really kind of our experiment to see what this fuss with Twitter was all about. Students are only going to get credit when they tweet about information that's valuable to the course."
Meyers required students to participate in "Ag Chat" on Tuesdays, where participants use Twitter like a chat room. Students experience how professional communicators, professionals in the agriculture world and interested parties use Twitter to keep up to date on issues in different parts of the country.
Because social media and its uses evolve constantly, Meyers said she isn't afraid to adapt an idea with her students' input. But at the same time, she doesn't rely completely on the new technology for imparting information to her students.
"I don't use Twitter as a be-all, end-all method to communicate with students," Meyers said. "I've learned that just because you put it on Twitter and that tweet may be easier than typing up an email, students checking their Twitter for that information is not always something that happens."
Social media sites such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter are invading college classrooms. According to the Massachusetts-based Babson Survey Research Group, a recent survey of 2,000 university educators found 80 percent of them used social media as a teaching tool. The same Babson survey found that only 2 percent of instructors used Twitter.
Reporting by John Davis & Daniel Hernandez
CONTACT: Courtney Meyers, assistant professor, Department of Agricultural Education & Communications, Texas Tech University at (806) 742-2816 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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