Dr. Sarah Juliet Lauro (@zombiescholar), of the UC Davis English Department, recently used Twitter to facilitate class discussion of Toni Morrison’s Sula. Lauro explains that the students in her mid-size lecture class (about 75 students) where “headed for the mid-quarter slump,” and she wanted to do something different.
She divided the students into small groups and assigned them particularly dense passages of the text. Each group had at least one “twitter person” (they were told about this in advance so they could establish Twitter accounts). Lauro gave the groups “free reign to go anywhere on campus to have small group discussions, but each group had to send at least three tweets about their conversation” using the tag, #sulastudy.
The activity lasted for 25 minutes, during which time Lauro and her TAs monitored the twitter feed, responding to the students’ comments. Then, the class regrouped and shared their observations.
Lauro found that using twitter not only “re-energized” the students’ interest in the material, but also provided a “written record of their observations,” and the students got to know each other better. “I would definitely do this again,” Lauro says, “perhaps even earlier in the quarter!”