Professors who wish to engage students during large lectures face an uphill battle. Not only is it a logistical impossibility for 200+ students to actively participate in a 90 minute lecture, but the downward sloping cone-shape of a lecture hall induces a one-to-many conversation. This problem is compounded by the recent budget cuts that have squeezed ever more students into each room.Fortunately, educators (including myself) have found that Twitter is an effective way to broaden participation in lecture. Additionally, the ubiquity of laptops and smartphones have made the integration of Twitter a virtually bureaucracy-free endeavor. This post describes the two main benefits professors find when using Twitter in lecture.
During lecture, students tweet comments or questions via laptop or cell phone, while the TA and Dr. Rankin respond to a real-time feed displayed prominently in front of the room. Students who manage to live off the grid for 50 minutes can still pass in hand-written notes for the TA to tweet after class.