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Study shows students aren't ready for twits in classroom

Only 18.6% of students surveyed for a CQ University study have a Twitter account.
Only 18.6% of students surveyed for a CQ University study have a Twitter account. Warren Lynam

YOUNG people may be mad about technology but that doesn't mean they feel comfortable about social media in the classroom, according to a new study.

CQUniversity's Dr Michael Cowling says his research shows less than 20% of students agree that Twitter should be part of the classroom and only 7% indicated they had used any form of social media in a higher education setting. 

 "Technology in the culture doesn't necessarily lead to technology in the classroom," Dr Cowling said.

His paper titled Tweet the Teacher: Using Twitter as a Mechanism to Increase Classroom Engagement was co-authored with Jeremy Novak from Southern Cross University.

Dr Cowling said technology was becoming a central part of our lives, with a recent PhotoBox printing site survey showing one in four Australians used their iPhone every day to take a picture.

And according to the Time magazine annual Mobility survey, 62% of people checked their iPhone at least once an hour and 68% of people slept with their phone next to their bed.

"Our work confirmed this society-wide technology focus, with 83.7% of our students indicating they have used social networking," Dr Cowling says.

"An increasingly digital classroom is an important consideration for universities if they wish to survive past 2025."

Dr Cowling says that, despite a high-uptake of social networking amongst the surveyed students, uptake of the Twitter tool especially was quite low, with only 18.6% indicating they had a Twitter account.

"This challenges the assumption that Twitter was common amongst digital natives, and further investigation would need to be undertaken to determine if this was a significant driver of the results," he said.

"In particular, it would be interesting to investigate whether the need to adopt a new social networking technology is a significant barrier of entry for digital native students to use social networking to engage in the classroom.

"It's becoming clear that we shouldn't assume that wide adoption of technology in general life means that students want to see this technology adopted in the classroom.

"How we overcome this needs to be an important part of the discussion moving forward." 

Dr Cowling will present his study at an international education conference in New Zealand next week.

Topics:  cquniversity education gladstone social media twitter



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