Tweet Higher and Higher

Esther-Irene Egan
Staff Writer

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Social Media has become quite popular in today’s society and has now found its way into a higher educational setting. Professors at USC Upstate are using social media to better enhance their classroom setting. Michael Dickins, USC Upstate’s box office and art gallery manager and adjunct instructor, warns that Twitter has the capability to be “something great or something bad, depending on how a person uses it.” He states that if people are not careful, they could “be caught up in the Twitterverse,” and believe misinformation that gets tweeted. On the other hand, incorporating this social site with education can help students have an educated understanding when accessing “Twitterverse.” Dickins explains how he mainly uses Facebook when showcasing his students’ work in his Digital Photography class because “it is a place where they could all upload images to…and share articles.” However, Dickins uses Twitter to promote art globally to the students who follow him. Evidently, professors are using the popular site to encourage a more active classroom environment.

Araceli Hernandez-Laroche, assistant professor of modern languages at Upstate, integrates Twitter into her French courses on campus.  She first heard of using social media in the classroom when attending the Faculty Development Institute (FDI) last summer as part of the second-year quality enhancement plan. Hernandez-Laroche became intrigued with using social media in the classroom because of the “amazing exchanges with other faculty developing technology intensive courses” which led to her to trying Twitter in the classroom. She explains that “communication resource allowed her to remove any borders between her classrooms with the outside world,” which helps students to “learn about current events, politics, history, traditions, and culture through an interactive digital platform.” This helps students understand that Twitter can be used for broadening someone’s cultural knowledge and, in turn, give him or her a more hands-on approach to learning their language of choice.

Michael Aridito, a third year computer science major at Upstate, admits to never having a Twitter account before last semester when he was in French 101 with Hernandez-Laroche. He found that having an account was “great because just about every celebrity and public figure is active on Twitter and it helps him keep up with what [fellow] classmates are doing.” According to Aridito, Twitter allows classmates to get to know one another, which could possibly lead to the formation of study groups.  According to Andrea Azumendi, a third year theatre major at Upstate, the use of social media brought about “a sense of friendship between student and professor.” She took an algebra course at Upstate where Twitter was used as a tool to help students with homework questions. The professor encouraged the class to take pictures of problems and post them on her account where she would send pictures back to the students on how to work through the problems.

Clearly, social media allows education to mix and mingle with this new way of communication, broadening students’ education through a portal in which they are familiar.

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