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Twitter Boosts Class Participation and Writing Skills Among Students

Update Date: Oct 17, 2012 06:16 PM EDT
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Twitter Fans (Photo : Flickr/ kirainet)

 With all the concerns over whether or not social networking sites and cellphones are ruining all the hard work teachers put in in teaching kids how to write and spell, a new study shows that twitter, famous for its 140-character only updates, is a new literary form that is actually improving student learning, a new study argues. 

Assistant professor of education at Michigan State University, Christina Greenhow found that college students who use twitter as part of their instruction are not only more engaged with the course content, teachers and fellow students but were proven to have higher grades. 

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"Tweeting can be thought of as a new literary practice," said Greenhow, who also studies the growing use of social media among high-schoolers. "It's changing the way we experience what we read and what we write," Greenhow explains in her study "Twitteracy: Tweeting as a New form of Literary Practice." 

With now more than 200 million active users on twitter and with present teachers and incumbent educators facing more preassure to intergrate technology into the classroom to relate to students, Greenhow finds that twitter in particular helped students learn how to critically think at a faster pace and write out thought cohesivley and concisley. 

In teaching a college class that required each student to have a twitter account and which utilized the site in various ways through the semester,  Greenhow said her students participated more through the site than they do face-to-face in the class setting."The students get more engaged because they feel it is connected to something real, that it's not just learning for the sake of learning," Greenhow said. "It feels authentic to them." 

The professor defines literacy as a way of communicating. But can a tweet be defined as a new literary form?

"One of the ways we judge whether something is a new literary form or a new form of communication is whether it makes new social acts possible that weren't possible before," Greenhow said. "Has Twitter changed social practices and the way we communicate? I would say it has." 

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