In the latest in round in the debates about how to use the glory of technology to fix school, comes news that at least one professor is using Twitter to advance classroom instruction.
At least he’s trying. According to the Chronicle of Higher Education:
As Mr. Chakravarty paces the front of a stadium-style lecture hall, wearing a wireless microphone to make sure his lecture reaches the nosebleed seats, some students crack jokes anonymously in an official Web forum. The course is one of two at Purdue that are testing homemade software called Hotseat, which lets students key in questions from their cellphones or laptops, using Twitter or Facebook.
The idea of this is to open up the classroom to the power of students, or something. Using technology in the classroom to make tech-savoy students more involved has long been the dream of certain college administrators but Sugato Chakravarty, professor of consumer sciences and retailing at Purdue University, explains that the difference with Twitter is mostly one of attidude. “Students really don’t hold back,” Chakravarty said. “If you say something wrong or something that they don’t agree with, then they’ll let you know, and everybody else will see it.”
It works both ways. Sometimes the teachers understand the technology better than the students. Once, during a test, a student asked for an answer to a question using Hotseat in Chakrovarty’s class. While the student showed up as “anonymous” on Hotseat, Chakrovarty could use his end of the system to figure who the student actually was, and call him out on his attempt to cheat.
Interestingly, one professor at the University of Texas at Dallas conducted an experiment to look at the effectiveness of Twitter usage in the classroom. For those interested, the write-up can be found here.