CANBERRA (Reuters) - Social networking upstart Twitter has made the jump to academia’s hallowed halls, with ‘tweets’ made compulsory writing for would-be journalists at an Australian university.
“Some students’ tweets are not as in depth as you might like. But I don’t know if getting them to write an essay is any more beneficial,” Jacqui Ewart, senior lecturer at Griffith University, told Reuters Thursday.
Twitter microblogs have become an online phenomenon with users sending ‘tweets’ of up to 140 characters, or just a few words, to increasing numbers of ‘followers’.
The service rose to global prominence during unrest in the wake of Iran’s recent presidential elections with tweets used to broadcast otherwise restricted information.
The service is being used more frequently by politicians, including Australia’s bookish Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, who has asked followers to recommend movie choices and this week ‘tweeted’ about his visit to a rural bakery.
Students were using twitter as “an exercise in self-reflection,” Ewart said, citing increasing demand from employers for people to use social networking tools.
But reaction from students has been mixed, she said, raising questions over the utility of using sites like Twitter and Facebook in a formal education curriculum.
“Quite surprisingly, a lot of students didn’t know what Twitter was. There were a couple of really vocal students who were saying they couldn’t believe we were using it and thought it was a waste of time,” Ewart said.
Reporting by Patrick Ingle; Editing by Rob Taylor and Sugita Katyal