To tweet or not to tweet: Student perceptions of the use of Twitter on an undergraduate degree course

Countries: 
Published: 
2019

Source: Innovations in Education and Teaching International, 56:4, 402-411

(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

The researchers state that the aim of this paper is to analyse the impact of Twitter on the learning process and whether Twitter contributes to critical thinking skills, to active student roles, and to collaborative learning.
The authors’ research questions are as follows:
• Will the use of horizontal and open social networks promote critical thinking?
• What perceptions will students have about what they learn using Twitter?
• Will the use of Twitter foster active student roles?
• Will the use of Twitter promote collaborative learning?

Method
Sample - In all, 202 students following undergraduate degree courses at the University of Burgos in Pedagogy (n = 38), Primary Education (n = 104), and Early Childhood (n = 60) participated in the activity.
The age range of the participants was between 18 and 39 years old (M = 19.75; SD = 2.7). 16.3% (n = 33) were men and 83.7% (n = 169) were women.

Instruments

Perceived Learning Questionnaire - The Perceived Learning Questionnaire had 5 items to evaluate a unique factor, each item was scored on a five-point Likert scale where 1 was the highest degree of disagreement and 5 the highest degree of agreement.

The effects of using Twitter during the course - The questionnaire section on the effects of Twitter use during the course contained items related to:
• Active student roles.
• The promotion of critical thinking.
• Collaborative learning.
All the items were answered by using a Likert-type scale with five possible responses (strongly disagree to strongly agree)

Procedure - A week before the end of the course, both questionnaires were handed in person to the students.
The questionnaires were administered during mandatory practical classes, to guarantee the maximum number of completed questionnaires.

Results and Discussion
The aim of this study was to verify the effects that the use of an open social network has on certain aspects related to student learning.
In terms of an educational experience, the results reported by the authors showed positive effects.
They report that most of the participants indicated that their experience using Twitter was positive from an educational perspective and that it was useful in their learning.
The most valued was the possibility of sharing experiences and knowledge with other people. Students also valued the opportunity of exchanging ideas with other people on the network.
The authors’ educational experiment has provided students with an open learning environment in which they can relate to service teachers and EdTech teachers, and by doing so, they can engage in virtual conversations with these groups, obtain information on current professional practice and share information, in order to contribute to the debate about education.
They point out that this connected environment links up with the ideas of the theory of connected learning, which takes place when a young person is able to follow an interest with the support of friends and adult advisors, and at some time is able to transfer this learning to academic achievement (Ito et al., 2013).
In the study, the authors report that the use of Twitter has opened up the class to society, and one of the most important consequences of introducing pre-service teachers to Twitter is that it has helped them develop a Personal Learning Network and to connect with educators.
They note that lifelong learning is essential, in order for both pre-service teachers and in-service teachers to advance in their professional development.
Hence, the authors claim that the informal learning environment provided by Twitter can extend their undergraduate curricula and support professional development.
The authors also report that the use of a social network has achieved higher levels of involvement among the students in the course.
Furthermore, the results of their study have shed light on how social networks have helped students to learn content, which is the ultimate goal of any educational innovation process.
They also point out that their results have also shown that using a social network has been a motivating factor in working harder in that subject and has even increased students’ interest in Information and communications technology (ICT) from an educational perspective. In addition, they claim that the educational activity under development has helped students to see the social media as an educational element, which can contribute to informal learning and to lifelong education.
 

Conclusion
The authors conclude that the results of their study on the use of Twitter have been positive.
Twitter has served as a professional tool for their students, adding value to traditional face-to-face classes.
The authors believe that educators can use the characteristics offered by Twitter to create learning communities that can improve both the early and the lifelong education of their students.
They feel that Twitter is a good tool for this proposal, because there are already large communities of teachers that use Twitter (see #edchat or #edtech), and studies have revealed that those students who work in a collaborative way learn better than those who work individually (Cen, Ruta, Powell, Hirsch, & Ng, 2016)

References
Cen, L., Ruta, D., Powell, L., Hirsch, B., & Ng, J. (2016). Quantitative approach to collaborative learning: Performance prediction, individual assessment, and group composition. International Journal of Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning, 11, 187–225
Ito, M., Gutiérrez, K., Livingstone, S., Penuel, B., Rhodes, J., Salen, K., & Watkins, S. C. (2013). Connected learning: An agenda for research and design. Irvine, CA: Digital Media and Learning Research Hub. Retrieved from http://dmlhub.net 

Updated: Dec. 19, 2019
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