This is a copy of the submitted abstract to the annual SMAANZ conference co-authored with Alicia Stanway from Edith Cowan University in Perth, Western Australia.
NB: The proposed presentation was accepted without changes on 13 August 2012
Abstract proposal: SMAANZ academic programme, 29-30 November 2012
Name: Olan Kees Martin Scott & Alicia Stanway
Institution: Edith Cowan University, Perth, Western Australia
Since 2008, Twitter has become increasingly popular for many industries to use to communicate promotional offers, company news, and as a public relations tool (Hambrick, 2010; Lowe & Laffey, 2011). Twitter is a micro blogging service where users can send messages, known as Tweets, of 140 characters or less. Twitter enables users to follow other users or companies, which makes content from the author automatically visible to one’s followers.
Several studies have found that the use of social media in a university setting can enable the instructor to develop a community of co-creators of unit (course) content (Retelny, Birnholtz, & Hancock, 2012), enable instructors to bring real-world examples into the unit (Lowe & Laffey, 2011), and foster enhanced engagement with a university unit materials (Junco, Heibergert, & Loken, 2010). This study sought to uncover how university lecturers can effectively utilise Twitter in a classroom setting and whether the use of Twitter leads to positive learning outcomes and enhanced engagement with unit materials.
To test whether the use of Twitter led to enhanced engagement with unit materials and positive learning outcomes, students anonymously completed a questionnaire that included items on whether respondents felt Twitter was an effective university assessment item, how often students had used the Twitter service during the semester, and whether students felt their engagement was enhanced through the use of Twitter. Participants were a purposeful sample of students enrolled in a third year sport marketing unit. The group consisted of primarily full-time (90.7%), domestic students (79.1%). The majority of participants had an existing social media account that they used at least once a month.
The relationship between Twitter as an effective learning resource and unit engagement was investigated using Pearson product-moment correlation coefficient. There was a strong positive correlation between the two variables (r = .70, p < .01), with high levels of unit engagement associated with higher levels of perception that Tweeting is an effective learning resource.
The current research suggests that Twitter can be used as an effective university assessment item. Further, relevant findings and their implications for university units will be presented at the conference in Sydney as well as suggestions on how to effectively use social media in a classroom setting to develop co-creators of content, use real-world examples, and foster increased engagement with unit materials.