North Central College - Naperville, IL

Political Science Engages Social Media

North Central College today is fertile ground for collaborations across disciplines and experiments with curriculum, facilities design and technology. It adds up to better opportunities for student learning and liberal arts education relevant to the 21st century.

In the fast-paced world of election-year politics, the students of William Muck and Suzanne Chod are tweeting about the fast-paced political scene.

Both assistant professors of political science, Muck and Chod require students to set up Twitter accounts for their phones and tablets (like an iPad). Outside of class, the professors and their students send Twitter messages at all hours of the day and night about any breaking news topic. A hashtag (#) with the course number makes all the messages easy for everyone to find.

“Twitter has been a wonderful classroom tool for getting students to engage in global affairs,” says Muck. “As the term went on students started using Twitter to carry out discussions of world events as well as their reading assignments.”

For Chod’s capstone course, students tweet relevant news stories (sharing a web link). “They will frequently tweet a story with a phrase like, ‘just like we discussed in class today.’ They’re making the connections. To set a good example and encourage participation, I also tweet stories and pose questions.”

Students like Twitter but have found negative aspects, too. “I am enjoying the use of Twitter,” says Ross Artley ’12, a political science major. “I see a broad range of issues that I might not otherwise have been made aware. But I do feel that the 140 character limit is very frustrating—I’d rather have a few sentences to respond.”

Emily Schaub ’12 was skeptical at first but now sees the value of Twitter for class. “I originally liked keeping it as my outside-of-school time-waster,” she says. ”But I’ve had some meaningful discussion via Twitter with classmates and quite often with Dr. Chod. She answers questions that I have while I’m reading without having to email or wait until class time.”

Nicole LeDonne ’12 continues to be a fan even after her political science class ended. “For me, using Twitter was a fun and interesting way to get closer with people in class. I still use my Twitter account to tweet articles and keep in contact with my classmates.”

North Central NOW Spring 2012