I remember the conversation well. It was early 2014, and I was taking a course in my MBA program called Sustainability in Business in the 21st Century. It was the first day of the course, and we were having an online discussion regarding the course requirements and assignments. One such requirement was to join LinkedIn and Twitter. The professor had given us several groups that we needed to join and participate in on LinkedIn, as well as, several relevant accounts and hashtags to follow on Twitter.
For most in the course this was not a problem as we were already active on social media. However, one student had a major objection and decided to bring out that objection in a very public way in front of the entire class. The discussion went something like this:
Student: “I can understand the need to join LinkedIn as it is a business site. However, I am not on Twitter and have no plans to ever join it. I am adamantly against it from a personal standpoint.”
Professor: “Being on Twitter to complete the research for the course is a requirement for all students. I will also be hosting Twitter chats in which I will be bringing on a few industry experts to participate in the discussion. It is imperative that you are in attendance.”
Student: “Twitter is full of spam and I see it as a site for teenagers to follow celebrities. I don’t see what celebrities have to do with this course, and I certainly don’t want to expose myself to more spam. I will join LinkedIn, but I refuse to be forced into joining Twitter just for the sake of this course.”
Professor: “You simply cannot complete the course or the requirements of the program without being on Twitter. There is a global conversation happening on Twitter by thought leaders regarding sustainability and other prominent topics that will be covered. You do not have to do anything else on Twitter beyond the required research. However, failure to complete this portion of the course will be reflected in your grade. Remember! The goal of this program is to grow as professionals and expand our thought patterns beyond what we were capable of yesterday. This process is hindered when we refuse to leave our comfort zones.”
The student ended up creating an account under an alias for the sole purpose of being able to participate and probably to save his/her grade.
Why was the professor so insistent that the student join Twitter? Because Twitter has become a very robust tool in education! Let’s take a look at some ways students use Twitter.
One of the goals of my MBA program was to give the students a global mindset. Twitter enables students to expand the boundaries of their learning by connecting with others on a global level. These insights go well beyond what can be found in an outdated textbook.
Twitter connects students to real-world problems that are happening now! Think breaking news. Think insights from people that are actually there where the story is unfolding. (Click to Tweet)
Students have the opportunity to build a global network of learning that they can carry with them well beyond their coursework. With Twitter, students are able to develop a personal brand while still in school.
There are many educational hashtags out there. Hashtags can be used to connect tweets within a given topic, and take the conversation to others who are interested in the same subject. When a student clicks on a hashtag, a curated content list is revealed containing links to videos, articles, books, websites, and more. Here are just a very few of the hashtags we used in my MBA program to do research:
For a list of educational hashtags check out this site.
Many of the Twitter pages that the hashtags help students discover can serve as a great resource for their entire program. Additionally, they can help students develop career ideas and opportunities.
Of course, not all the research we did was on Twitter. Nor am I even remotely advocating for that. A wide range of techniques and platforms should be used for academic research. However, Twitter has moved beyond mere entertainment. It is now a powerful tool for business and education.
I would really enjoy hearing your thoughts. Do you agree that Twitter should be used in education to connect people and ideas? What do you think about the stance the professor took with the student regarding opening a Twitter account for the course? Please do engage in discussion below regarding using Twitter in education, or anything that came to mind while reading my post.
About the Author: John White is a recovering 13-year veteran of the wireless industry, current owner and chief marketer at Social Marketing Solutions, and is a contributing writer to The Good Men Project, Dice Insights, Babble.com, and more. When he is not blogging or Tweeting, John enjoys being a dad, playing tennis, and eating Mexican food.
Book a meeting with me: https://calendly.com/juanblanco61