Using Twitter during a lecture – accessibility of internet devices

In order to evaluate the Twitter experience I tried last term, the education service of the ULB distributed a questionnaire at the end of the class. A first set of questions revolved around the accessibility of devices that would allow students to use Twitter in the classroom. 95.5% of the respondents had either a laptop or cell phone which give them access to Internet. Without minimizing the argument that the use of new media could be a factor of social exclusion, these figures indicate that this seems no longer to be the case.

The laptop has become particularly widespread: four fifths of respondents have one. More surprising for me was the high rate of students who have a smartphone: 47%. If the equipment rate is very high, all do not bring their laptop or smartphone in the classroom, far from it. 39% always leave at home, 32% use it sometimes in the course and 29% consistently. Internet use during the course was therefore limited not by the financial inability of students to have the necessary equipment but by their reluctance to bring it to the university. The reasons for this are multiple.

Reasons not to bring your internet device to class (n = 101, multiple answers possible)

Too bulky to carry Not enough battery life Risk of loss or theft Risk of distraction during the class I do not see the point
63.4% 28.7% 30.7% 46.5% 16.8%

Two aspects are problematic for most students. On the one hand laptops are considered too bulky to transport. Is this related to the fact that cheap laptops are often relatively heavy? Why are netbooks like the Asus Eee PC not used more heavily? Will the arrival of the tablets change the game?1 A second barrier is the fear of distraction, fear also expressed by colleagues when I told them about the exercise. The limited autonomy of the battery (given as the only reason in 7% of cases) and the risk of loss or theft (given as the only reason only once) are other significant barriers.

  1. I did not see students using one during my class. Contrary to the States where tablet ownership is already widespread, this seems not to be the case in Belgium. Liberat Ntibashirakandi actually plans a study on the topic at the ULB []

Benoit Majerus

Since January 2011, I am working as Associate Professor at the University of Luxembourg. I have written my PhD on the occupation of Belgium during World War One and World Two. In 2013 I published a history of psychiatry in the 20th century from below. I am also co-editor of h-madness.

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