My twitter assignment for my econometrics classes has garnered a bit of attention over the last few weeks. As we had our first assignment, reading Charles Wheelan‘s Naked Statistics, along with the regular assignments, my students interacted with each other,
with Lafayette College communications and library accounts,
with Alison Byerly, president of Lafayette College,
with some of my colleagues, and even with Stata. My favorite post of the week came when a student tweeted at me to ask whether a follow from Stata earned him extra points.
— (@saessafo) January 29, 2014
I’ll let you guess what the answer was.
Lafayette College has a social media working group, a relatively informal gathering of social media practitioners on campus, who asked me and another professor to come by and give a short presentation on how we were using twitter in the classroom. Last semester, Chris Phillips had students live-tweet his seminar on Moby Dick, while my assignments are mostly out of class, at least at this point.
A few days later, a colleague tweeted an article on a new psychology paper showing that students process information better, and get more nuance, when they take longhand notes as opposed to typing verbatim a professor’s lecture. While this justifies my reluctance to give out class notes, it also got me thinking about whether live-tweeting would be more like longhand notes or like typing notes. One of the participants in our twitter in the classroom discussion asked Chris whether the students who live-tweeted did better or worse than the others. He didn’t feel he could really make a statement either way (he already knew one of the students, not to mention the statistical power issue with a small sample size), but it’s a question worth asking. Assuming we take the study at face value, does the power of note-taking come with the physical process of writing out letters? Or is there something particularly damaging about typing verbatim that limits processing? And which process does live-tweeting, where you are typing, but have to process and condense information fairly quickly, mimic more closely?