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Discussions, Follow Fridays on social media offer alternative way of learning

Students are often told not to bring electronics into class, but Heather Muir has a philosophy of BYOD.

Muir, lecturer in the sports management department, encourages students to “Bring Your Own Device,” so they can use them during class.

She introduced Twitter in the classroom in 2012 because a colleague in Australia was using the social media tool in his class.

She uses the social media site to teach her students how to use Twitter for more than just talking to friends.

“I’m trying to introduce the students to thinking about Twitter for professional networking, not just social networking,” Muir said.

On the very first day of class Muir teaches her students how to use Twitter since she uses it frequently in her class.

“I encourage [students] to set up a professional account,” she said.

Freshman Matthew Cooper set up a professional account because of Muir’s class.

“I have a personal account which I use a lot, so having another account for a more professional usage is different, but it’s cool to see what professionals in the sporting industry use their accounts for,” Cooper said.

To keep the students engaged on Twitter, Muir assigns homework on the social network.

“I have them doing follow Friday assignments … they are encouraged to go and check the accounts that everybody else is suggesting they follow and follow them so that they get a sense of what professionals do,” she said.

The assignment isn’t just to follow a person on Twitter though. After following a professional for a week students have to write a report.

“[Students] are supposed to follow their person for a week and then they have to fill out a report. How many follows does that person have, how many are following them. [Students also have to] look at the language and then assess do you think this is a professional account, personal account, or mixed … how many times do they Tweet,” Muir said.

Cooper enjoys the assignments Muir gives them because he likes to see how professionals act on social media.

“It’s sweet to see what they say and how they use Twitter in their job,” Cooper said.

Some former students of Muir like senior Dan Kotnik liked using Twitter.

“I think the students and myself really enjoyed how different it was from just a regular class,” Kotnik said.

Kotnik believes the use of Twitter in class also helped students open up in class more than a regular class discussion.

Instead of having lectures, Muir hosts discussions on Twitter where the students can ask each other questions.

“[Students] are responsible for choosing a sports ethic topic and sending me links that I can put on Canvas so people can read articles about the topic before we start the conversation,” Muir said. “And then whoever is leading the discussion that week has to send me questions in advance … so I function as a moderator. They choose the ethical topic, they submit questions, but I sort of run it.”

Muir believes Twitter helps her get to know her students better than just having a normal class with them, which is something she is happy about.

“I feel like I’m keeping in contact with my students and getting to know them a little bit better through Twitter,” Muir said.

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