During my first tweet chat this week, (#brandchat) I could not help but wonder whether these pseudo-anonymous, fast-paced conversations could be the 'recitation sections' of the future. The dreaded 8am Friday discussions with a teaching assistant or professor could take place online, in the comfort of one's own bed and pajamas. No need to trek through wind, rain or snow (in the case of Syracuse) to a small room to sit awkwardly with fifteen other, equally hung-over undergraduates. Simply log onto Twitter, and follow the assigned hashtag to participate in and learn from the online discussion.
In just one hour, #brandchat covered four great questions about social media/brands/public relations/marketing techniques and evaluation. Hundreds of people participated, sharing their ideas and expertise on the questions at hand. I have no doubt I would have been far less vocal and far more loathe to share my opinions on the topics had I sat in a room with my renowned and experienced fellow-tweeters. However, hiding behind the mask of my Twitter handle, I had no problem throwing my ideas out into the abyss, hoping the good ones would be caught and re-tweeted, and the bad ones forgotten quickly in the deluge of #brandchat tweets.
If students were asked to participate in weekly tweet chats rather than weekly recitation sections, I have no doubt that participation amongst the typically less-vocal students would increase, and overall student engagement would rise as well. The ideas being shared could link quickly and easily to new content. Want to reference a movie clip from The Great Gatsby or a scholar's analysis of election trends? Simply add a hyperlink to your tweet, and you and your classmates are instantly engaged with the content and ideas on a deeper level. Want to bring a guest speaker in to mediate the discussion about the week's readings? Simply have them join the twitter chat by using the class hashtag.
In the world of tweet chats, engagement and knowledge-sharing reaches a new level. Higher education institutions would do well to incorporate this new media into their classrooms.