Using Twitter in a large auditorium

 

Part of a discussion around neo-colonialism

This is the fourth post that I publish on a Twitter experiment I did last year at the Université libre de Bruxelles (here, here and here). Yesterday I was invited to speak at a symposium entitled “e-Learning@UniGR – Insights/Capabilities/Prospects” on this experience. It was for me the occasion to continue to work on the results provided by the poll I took with the education service of the ULB.

One of my biggest fear was my inability to control the tweets students would post and that would immediately appear on the twitter livestream on the big screen behind me.

Half of the tweets were directly related to the content of the lecture:

  • students asked questions and got responses from other students

  • twice they did reveal faults in my slides and provided links to wikipedia to prove that I was wrong 🙂

  • they referred to websites interesting for the topic of the class

  • sometimes they started discussions on topics related to the course but not touched on in my teaching; in the lecture of colonisation, a discussion on the question if NGOs were neocolonial institutions was initiated by a student without me referring to this problematic

A quart of the tweets were about organisational problems and a quart was not related at all to the lecture. They were however not very disturbing and provoked some funny moments. The fear of a slippery comments proved to be unfounded, at least in this class.

In the survey we distributed during the last lecture of this course (more here), we also asked the students to evaluate the experience. At the end of this post, you will find the detailed results. The strongest argument in favour of Twitter, for the students, was a better conviviality inside this large auditorium. Of the 300 students that attended the class on a regular basis, only 13 did intervene actively on Twitter. But for all – at least a large majority (85% of the respondents) – (strongly) agreed with the following proposal: “Cela introduit une ambiance conviviale”. This good atmosphere made lecturing for me very pleasant, even in such a large “classroom”1.

Chart a – Better understanding

Strongly agree

Agree

Disagree

Strongly Disagree

14%

52%

27%

7%

Chart b – Amelioration of the concentration

Strongly agree

Agree

Disagree

Strongly Disagree

8%

28%

34%

30%

Chart c – Better conviviality

Strongly agree

Agree

Disagree

Strongly Disagree

44%

41%

12%

3%

Chart d – Distracting

Strongly agree

Agree

Disagree

Strongly Disagree

13%

22%

37%

29%

Chart e – Not useful

Strongly agree

Agree

Disagree

Strongly Disagree

14%

24%

29%

33%

 

  1. For those who want/need more arguments for using Twitter in classroom, read Junco, R., G. Heibergert, and E. Loken. ‘The Effect of Twitter on College Student Engagement and Grades’. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning (2010): 1–14. []

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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One thought on “Using Twitter in a large auditorium”

  1. Dear B. Majerus,
    I read your articles with great interest, and this has allowed me to discover the work of R. Junco, G. Heiberger & E. Loken that I do not yet know. I wish I have your opinion on the 5th principle of Chickering and Gamson : (5) emphasizing time on task ? In your opinion what is it ?
    I am a PhD student in Information and Communication Sciences and I work with students in distance learning via twitter (as a mediated support), in this framework, I distinguish academic time and private time as we use Twitter differently.

    I am pleased to share with you on this topic.

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