Can using Twitter make you smarter? A new semester-long study found that university students who used Twitter for educational purposes earned GPAs a half-point higher than a non-tweeting control group.
In a group of 125 students at an anonymous medium-sized public university in the US, 70 students used Twitter to access information and complete class assignments; the remaining 55 students used a more typical internet-based course-management system and billboard. Not only did the tweeting 70 earn higher GPAs, they also reported much higher levels of engagement. The findings were reported in the Journal of Computer Assisted Learning.
Some early-adopting professors have advocated experimenting with Twitter in the classroom - "essentially asking students to pass notes during class", as the Chronicle of Higher Education once put it. This study may vindicate such an approach. But one professor quoted by the Chronicle expressed scepticism that Twitter alone could have led to such a remarkable boost. "I think more could be done to understand the range of ways that the Twitter design can work better in class assignments and collaborative note-taking," said Dave Parry, a UT Dallas professor who himself has experimented with Twitter in his class.
Meanwhile, to the dismay of more traditional professors, students can point to a new justification for pulling out smartphones in class.
Image by Andrew Hur
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