How Twitter can transform teaching

Washington : Social networking service helps teachers engage students in class and after, according to a recent study.

The research offers powerful evidence that Twitter, if used properly, can produce these outcomes among middle school students and enhance the way children learn in the 21st century.

The article 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.

Students reported significant increases in four key areas that contributed to their learning: exposure to reputable science and leaders, like Bill Nye “the science guy,” 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.

Ryan Becker, a 2015 graduate of the doctoral program in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at the University of Vermont, used his middle school science classes to conduct the research in conjunction with co-author Penny Bishop, professor of middle level education and director of the Tarrant Institute for Innovative Education. Becker found that 95 percent of his 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 organizations like NASA and science-related programs like PBS’ NOVA and NPR’s Science Friday. “NASA, and scientists that I follow, tweet a lot about cool science stuff,” commented one student. Becker suggested to another student who tweeted him outside of class about an interest in black holes that they reach out via Twitter to well known and popular astrophysicist Katie Mack. Much to the delight of the student, Mack tweeted her back and included her in a conversation about black holes with other experts and students.

Becker’s initial work with Twitter in his classroom led to his dissertation research focused on using Twitter for science learning. The findings further highlight the potential of Twitter as a means to personalize learning and to expand secondary students’ encounters with science professionals and organizations.

The study appears in Middle School Journal. (ANI)