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Transforming Education with New Media

Participatory Pedagogy, Interactive Learning, and Web 2.0

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Peter DePietro

The possibilities that online platforms and new media technologies provide, in terms of human connection and the dissemination of information, are seemingly endless. With Web 2.0 there is an exchange of messages, visions, facts, fictions, contemplations, and declarations buzzing around a network of computers that connects students to the world – fast. Theoretically this digital connectivity, and the availability of information that it provides, is beneficial to curriculum development in higher education. Education is easily available, democratic, and immersive. But is it worthwhile? Is the kind of education one can get from new media platforms and social media resources, with their click-on videos, rollover animations, and unfiltered content, of sufficient quality that educators should integrate these tools into teaching? This book examines the use of new media in pedagogy, as it presents case studies of the integration of technology, tools, and devices in an undergraduate curriculum taught by the author, at an urban research university in the United States.
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8. Microblogging in the Classroom

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8

MICROBLOGGING IN THE CLASSROOM

With the social media platform and microblog Twitter, users have 140 characters to communicate individual messages, called tweets. Conventional media observer and author Marshall McLuhan coined the phrase “the medium is the message”16 in his book of a similar but not identical title, The Medium Is the Massage. (The typo in the book’s title is the result, ostensibly, of a printing error.) It follows then, using the wisdom of McLuhan, that the medium Twitter is a message: 140 characters of message. Because this message is communicated in the classroom, it is an instructional medium, and the medium/message should be one of substance, one that is relevant. But it seems that any medium, or tool, that allows for only 140 characters of expression at a given time would not provide for a worthwhile exchange of ideas in the classroom. If relevant and meaningful discourse is measured by numbers of characters, words, or sentences, then microblogs could not support relevant and meaningful discourse. Microblogs limit discourse. They are, after all, micro. So let us ask this: Can Twitter and other microblogs be relevant in classroom instruction, despite their inherent and obvious limitation on discourse?

A serious educator would put forward that the message brevity inherent in Twitter is indeed a limitation that undermines the communication of message. Serious educators want students to express themselves in full sentences, with proper grammar and adherence to the rules of punctuation. With 140 ← 73...

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