Tuesday, March 2, 2010

NCCU Professor Increases Classroom Participation and Engagement with Twitter

Students encouraged to use Twitter in the classroom.
Students enrolled in the Advertising Sales and Marketing class at North Carolina Central University are encouraged to use Twitter for both classroom participation and assignments.

Led by Dr. Charmaine McKissick-Melton, Associate Professor in the English and Mass Communication Department, students have an exciting opportunity to explore classroom content through the use of social media.

On February 25, 2010, Dr. McKissick-Melton met with the North Carolina Central University chapter of Social Media Club Education (SMCEdu-NCCU) to share her experiences. "In the beginning, the students were a little too courteous with one another." She explains that it took a little prodding to get students out of their shell. However, once the students warmed up to the idea, they continued classroom discussions well into their own time.

The pilot program, which started in January 2010, will continue to use Twitter for two remaining projects.

Dan Reis, Multimedia Designer for the Center for University Teaching & Learning, worked closely with Dr. McKissick-Melton to develop the pilot program. Together McKissick-Melton and Reis created a page in the syllabus, offered written instructions on what to do in Twitter, facilitated in-class feedback, and provided overall technical support.

Any students using the hashtag #3610 in a tweet, would get classroom participation points. However, Dr. McKissick-Melton pointed out that in-class tweets were regulated to a specific time in an effort to minimize distractions. She found that students were unable to multi-task effectively.

For instructors interested in supplementing lesson plans with social media, Dr. McKissick-Melton offers the following advice:

  • Have technical support readily available. Having the support of a knowledgeable assistant helps to keep the class moving with few hiccups. Instructors with TA's or other technical support, can focus on teaching and engaging while the aid can focus on fixing problems.

  • Start off with a manageable number of students. For a pilot program, Dr. McKissick-Melton suggests keeping it at or around 15 students.

  • Offer a structured time for tweeting. Promoting classroom discussion via Twitter is encouraged, but  Dr. McKissick-Melton recommends opening that door only during scheduled times.
To view the entire SMCEdu-NCCU presentation, click on the video below:

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Damond L. Nollan, M.B.A.

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