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2. Learning to be concise. Although writing lengthy essays about the Declaration of Independence or the Federalist Papers involves heavy research and labor, exacting a response to these materials in 140 characters or fewer can also require deep thought.
Daniel Klinghard, an assistant professor at the College of the Holy Cross, uses Twitter to debunk the fact that these new technologies are destroying the English language. In his political science courses, Klinghard uses a Twitter-inspired project that requires students to summarize major political text without going over the Twitter-imposed character limit.
Students reacted positively to the assignments, says Alex Wong, a rising junior at Holy Cross. "The assignments were helpful because they forced us to try to condense our thoughts about a particular reading," Wong says. "It made us look at the overall point of the [text]."
3. Personifying characters on Twitter. In a literature course at California State University—San Marcos, students brought characters from the New York Times bestselling Twilight series to life.
"The popularity of Twilight is very much linked to social media," says course lecturer Natalie Wilson. "So when I taught this course, I wanted to bring that into the classroom and make students aware of how its Internet presence has fueled its massive cultural popularity."
Each student chose a character from the series to personify on Twitter, demonstrating their knowledge of the book's writing style in their tweets. The project was initially received with skepticism, Wilson notes, but students quickly accepted and engaged in Twitter. Students worked together to create campaigns, including one to rid the social platform of Bella, one of the main characters in the series.
"It was really impressive what they did," Wilson says. "It was much more effective than just sitting in the classroom talking about the characters."
4. Teaching executives about social media. The goal of the Social Media Marketing course at the University of California—Los Angeles Extension, a continuing higher education provider for working adults, is to equip students with social media tools of the business world, says Beverly Macy, author of The Power of Real-Time Social Media Marketing and professor at the UCLA Extension.
"There's a complete shift in how we're doing business," Macy says. "People are now getting their [information] from LinkedIn and Twitter and Facebook."
The course, which Macy calls "social media for executives," teaches students how to act and react in real time by implementing social media practices. Macy live blogs during her class, and students are encouraged to live tweet notes and ideas using classroom hash tags to create Twitter conversations.
Though her classes are normally a mix of older students who are wary and skeptical of the value of real-time social platforms, "by the middle of the class they get it," Macy says.
The course has been "nothing short of life changing" for Tiffany Paralta, one of Macy's students. "I've been introduced to an entirely new world," Paralta says. "[I] realize that this class is a serious game changer in my career and in how I consume information in general."