Tweets for Thought
Engaging students in and out of the classroom through social media.
The Knight School of Communication here at Queens University is always finding ways to integrate new learning techniques through social media outlets, such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Social media and digital literacy has become a trademark of the Communications department at Queens. The Knight School professors even encourage students to practice these outlets for in-class discussions. Dr. John A. McArthur, Associate Professor of the Knight School of Communication, exemplifies leadership in this area.
In Dr. McArthur’s Integrated Strategic Communication class in the summer of 2013, his students were administered a Twitter lab. The assignment was to practice the use of successful and meaningful tweets three times a day for a solid week. Students were encouraged to communicate with their fellow classmates using the hash tag #Comm306, making it easier to find and share with everyone. In addition, it motivated students to share compelling articles they found related to the communications field while also tying it into the class, as well as the Knight School.
It taught the students a variety of skills. As every step or grade level in a student’s academic career is geared toward preparing you for the next, this Twitter lab did just that. In the Communications field, social media is key, but it’s not as simple as sending a tweet; it needs to be informative, interesting, and professional. Tweeters need to consider their audience and the message they are sending. Also, reflect on why you’re tweeting in the first place.
Dr. McArthur shared a list of reasons as to why he chooses to tweet with his class. They fit the criteria: be informative, interesting and professional. His first reason was that it connects him with others. “People can find me (and I can find them). I’ve had excellent interactions with students, journalists, television personalities, authors, and other professors that I never would have had without Twitter.” He also claims it engages his interests, saying “Conversations abound on infinite subjects on Twitter”, and that it promotes his work. Not only has he, himself, learned from Twitter, but it allows him to discover new people and events daily.
All of these reasons are seen as motivators to his students. Aside from wanting to be successful in the class, the root of that comes from learning. By Dr. McArthur incorporating these unique assignments into his classes, he is not only being creative in his teaching, but genuinely preparing his students for the way of the world: through social media. His efforts are teaching his students to be exactly as their tweets should be: informative, interesting, and professional. With continuing efforts such as these, the Knight School students of Dr. McArthur’s are sure to be nothing less than successful.
Some schools, and even some professors, might find this assignment and teaching technique a little unorthodox; that’s what separates Queens University from all the rest. Queens is constantly developing groundbreaking initiatives, and the Knight School of Communication is always ready to contribute. Our world is vastly changing around us, with social media and digital literacy being a prime way to stay in communication with people, businesses, schools, and the world globally.
Kimberlee Servideo is a rising senior at Queens University of Charlotte, who is working towards her Bachelor’s Degree in Organizational Communication.
McArthur, John. “Why I Tweet.” WordPress. N.p., 11 Feb 2011. Web. 9 Jun. 2013. <http://jamcarthur.com/2010/02/11/why-i-tweet/>.