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Mobile microblogging and the student experience: a study in 140 characters (or less) (ALT-C 2009)

Presentation at ALT-C 2009, Manchester. Paper 0018, Wednesday 9 September 2009 at 13.55 in room 1.219.

Abstract: We investigated the use and implications of a mobile microblogging system for recording the student experience. iPod touch devices obtained through the JISC/TechDis HEAT3 scheme were used by two different cohorts of students. The first group were campus-based first year undergraduate science students, all 18-19 years old. The second group were campus-based postgraduate masters-level arts students who ranged in age from 21-41. Mobile devices score highly on flexibility but other than for video and audio are poor input devices, e.g. for large amounts of text, the use of a microblogging service enabled us to assess the flexibility of a limited text based system on these devices (maximum message of 140 characters). Participants were asked to use the Twitter microblogging system regularly to record short messages describing where and what they were studying, and request or respond to support needs. Participants were recruited by a combination of face to face and online contacts, and used the device for four weeks. Student messages were tracked by RSS from a designated tag which they added to their messages and the data aggregated centrally for analysis. Participating students were required to post messages ('tweet') at least four times per day. Data were analysed with content analysis and automated services such as to aggregate data relating to the interfaces used to access twitter and timelines of twitter activity by hour and day of the week. Outcomes of this work include the following:
1. The students' broadening of the affordances technology offered them.
2. The range of technology utilised to facilitate these affordances.
3. Other related benefits - for example, in the postgraduate group, a tutor used Twitter to communicate their availability to the group, offer additional links, etc.
4. Peer support emerged as a feature of the student generated network, with students using the service not just to report on their status but to arrange meetings, share resources, revise.
As a result, the potential for a wider rollout of the approach is high: we can already provide evidence for real benefits to student groups and tutors sharing a common subject/location.

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Mobile microblogging and the student experience: a study in 140 characters (or less) (ALT-C 2009)

  1. 1. Student Microblogging And Recording Timelines (SMART)Alan Cann, Jo Badge, Stuart Johnson, Alex Moseley<br /><br />
  2. 2. Two groups of students, two hashtags<br />Biological Sciences first yr undergraduates (7)<br />Museum studies postgraduates (8)<br />
  3. 3. Microblogging using Twitter<br />doing metabolism questions over msn, testing each other is a fab way to learn! If only I knew any answers.<br />is rather worried about the assessment tomorrow and is preparing herself for failure<br />Got up at 7 and look the black sky out of my window. Just browsing the website of National Sports Museum<br />Reading about kandinsky and art and music. How apt on an iPod<br />
  4. 4. Twitter was used in other ways<br />
  5. 5. Undergraduate tweets<br />
  6. 6. Networks<br />
  7. 7. Postgraduate tweets<br />
  8. 8. Networks<br />
  9. 9. Acknowledgements<br />This project was supported by<br />JISC TechDis Heat 3 scheme<br />