Twitter in the Engineering Classroom
The micro-blogging platform, Twitter, has been employed by some in higher education as a tool for enhanced student engagement. This platform has shown promise as an educational tool for the promotion of critical reading and writing and concise expression of ideas. However, it is unclear in what settings and under what circumstances Twitter can be effectively employed in the engineering classroom. These questions were explored over a multi-semester study of student participation in directed social media discussions within the engineering classroom. The various cohorts of students included in this study were drawn from engineering courses. Comparisons were made between these multiple cohorts on the basis of active engagement in the assigned tasks, performance on homework and examinations, and overall course performance. Through the process of using this practice in the classroom, it was found that there was difficulty encouraging engineering students to participate in Twitter discussions regardless of the incentive provided. Limited evidence was found of greater course achievement correlating with greater participation in Twitter based tasks. It is expected that greater effort is required in familiarizing students with the Twitter platform and increasing their comfort level with asking questions and carrying out discussions in a public forum.