CQUniversity Australia

We're technology mad but not quite ready for twits in the classroom 

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We may be a technology-mad society but that does not mean students feel comfortable about social media in the classroom.

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

PhotoID:13638, Dr Michael Cowling
Dr Michael Cowling
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"Technology in the culture doesn't necessarily lead to technology in the classroom," he said on the eve of presenting his research in New Zealand*.

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 says that technology is becoming a central part of our lives, with a recent PhotoBox printing site survey showing one in four Australians uses their iPhone every single day to take a picture.

He also says that, according to the Time magazine annual Mobility survey, 62% of people check their iPhone at least once an hour and 68% of people sleep with their phone next to their bed.

"Our work confirmed this society-wide technology focus, with 83.7% of our students indicate that 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 is quite low, with only 18.6% indicating that 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 is presenting at the ISANA International Education Association 23rd Annual Conference in Auckland New Zealand from December 4 - 7. Details are via http://www.cdesign.com.au/isana2012/