Reasons to Use Twitter in the Sociology Classroom
You can read the full narrative of how I have used Twitter to teach sociology to college students for over six years in the two part series about @SociologyTheory. The first is titled, The Story of @SociologyTheory: Origins and Initial Reviews, and the second is called, The Story of @SociologyTheory: Sociology Twitter Assignments. Here, though, I would like to give readers a quick glance at some of my best reasons to use Twitter to teach sociology.
1. Provides insight into social discourse.
As a sociologist, “social discourse” was one of the original reasons why I brought Twitter into my classroom. I taught Social Problems by training students to analyze competing narratives, and Sociology of Race and Ethnicity by showing students how Twitter can be used to disrupt traditional racialized narratives. In any case, instructors looking for ways to keep students up-to-date on current events, should look into the Twitterverse.
2. Increases student engagement in course material.
When I began conducting research into how Twitter can be used pedagogically, one of the problems I was looking to solve was how to increase student engagement in sociological content. What I found was that when tasked with posting to Twitter, students would go to the internet. They were watching relevant YouTube videos, reading blogs, and applying sociology to current events.
3. Provides students a creative outlet for their ideas.
In my days as a teaching assistant, I witnessed students regularly line up at the end of classes to share online content with personable instructors. Whether it was news, memes, blogs, websites, or any other content, we want our students creatively applying sociological concepts to their everyday lives. Twitter shortens the line between student and professor after class.
4. Provides a social outlet for students.
Twitter is a form of social media intended to allow users to concisely demonstrate an identity and share ideas. As instructors we should strive to help our students build their social identity and discuss their insights with their classmates. Twitter gives students a platform where they can confidently share their identity and ideas with the world.
5. Validates student ideas.
When I have asked students about their experiences using sociology in the classroom, one of the most common highlights is the access to “prestigious figures” in the field. In my classes, students have been able to connect in way or another with professors, graduate students, and practitioners from multiple countries. I have heard countless stories of the feeling of validation that students feel when a professor from _____ University or from _____ country retweets their post.