Enhancing In-Class Participation in a Social Media World

Twitter Enhances Classroom Lecture

Young people love social media such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and LinkedIn.

Does allowing college students to use cell phones, laptops, or ipads in class to tweet messages during the lecture enhance classroom participation or simply disrupt the class?

For some time now instructors have questioned the effectiveness of the traditional lecture.

Studies suggest that students are motivated and  learn best when they are actively engaged in the content and not passively listening to a professor lecture. Most instructors report that it is usually only a few students who actively participate in a classroom discussion. Many students are shy and do not want to risk speaking up in a classroom.

Dr. Monica Rankin of the University of Texas at Dallas was pleased when normally silent students began to take part in the classroom discussion via Twitter.

Television programs are using social media to engage their audience. Sports teams use social media to engage their fans. Presidential campaign organizers seeks to engage voters. And instructors can use social media to motivate students to engage in the classroom discussion.

During the lecture students can tweet questions or comments via their cell phone,  laptop, or ipad.

Students do not have to suffer in silence through the lecture. Instead of doodling on a notepad, whispering to their classmates, or passing notes, the students can ask questions or make comments via Twitter. All students view the comments as they are displayed on the Smartboard or large screen.

There are huge benefits to students tweeting during lectures.

The more students interact and play with the content, the more engaged they are in learning the material.

Instructors can answer questions and adjust their lecture based on the live Twitter comments. Students add their perspectives to what the instructor is saying, and they will stay more engaged than they would if they were just sitting and passively listening.

Have you used Twitter during your classroom lecture? Do you think it is worth a try? Do you think it would be too disruptive? Thank you for your comments.


Cherney, I. (2008). The effects of active learning on students’ memories for course content. Active Learning in Higher Education, 9, 152-171.

http://mashable.com/2010/03/01/twitter-classroom/ (Greg Ferenstein).