Monday, March 21, 2016

Twitter’s impact in the classroom and social media life at Utah State University

By Braden Clark
On Monday, Twitter turned a decade old and over the past 10 years student life at Utah State University has been changed by the app. Not only did the social aspect of the college campus change, but Twitter, along with other forms of social media, has changed the life in the classroom as well.
“We use it as part of our class,” said Candi Carter Olson, a professor of journalism who specializes in social media at Utah State University. “In my media smarts class I make students tweet at me back channel. It’s a great tool to create conversations, and for students to continue conversations throughout the day.”
Something Twitter introduced to the world is the use of the “hashtag” a symbol originally meant the use of a number, but changed into a form to identify messages on a specific topic.
“Before Twitter we didn’t use hashtags, and in fact we still look at hashtags on Facebook and say ‘Why are you using hashtags?’ but they do serve an interesting purpose,” Olson said. “They draw people all across the globe together in conversations in ways they would have never connected before.”
Utah State University students use Twitter as a form of communication, and a way to connect to more students on campus.
“We see students on campus throughout the day, but we never really talk to them,” said Chris Glaittli, the Utah State University Student Associations assistant marketing director. “Whenever you like something that someone says on Twitter you already have an ‘in’ with that person, and people who are shyer in public don’t have that opportunity.”
“Twitter has built a community here on the Utah State campus,” said Yusuf Mumin, an avid Twitter user on the schools campus. “I got Twitter my freshman year, because I lived at home and I just wanted to stay connected to what was happening on campus.”
Twitter has brought students at Utah State University closer together, but with the 140 character limit Twitter has also help build the creativity of the students’ tweets.
“Whenever I tweet I usually go for a connection with someone, and whether that be serious, funny or something that’s just going on I feel like it helps knowing that you’re interacting with people,” Glaittli said.
“We all have the same opportunity to get noticed, because we all have 140 characters to get our opinion out there,” Mumin said. “It’s somewhat strange, because people will come up to me in class and ask ‘how do you get so many favorites?’ and I don’t really have anything to tell them, because I’m just doing what works for me.”
An event Glaittli mentioned was the first community experience for him at Utah State was the Ms. USU pageant two years ago.
“People still talk about what I said, and what Yusuf said, and what other people said on Twitter during that event,” Glaittli said. “It was really crazy because it originally started out as one or two of us, but then with the hashtag ‘#MsUSU2k14’ we were able to have a giant conversation with all the students that were there watching the event.”
Olson listed some positive things towards Twitter, but there are some draw backs as well.
“Some find it easy to communicate and connect over Twitter, but it’s hard to catch up if you sign up right now,” she said. “Your message can get easily get lost on Twitter, and it’s all about how you navigate. How do you get attention on Twitter? Appose to the people who are famous.”
Olson compared starting out on Twitter is like talking to a brick wall.
In the coming year Twitter plans to expand its 140 character limit to 10,000. Twitter expanded its direct messaging system from 140 to 10,000 in July, but Olson is worried it’ll make it too “busy on Twitter if the expansion is allowed.”

“I don’t love the increase in characters, because I think Twitter thrives on having to get the word out in a short statement,” said Glaittli. “I bet it’s going to be really awesome for some people. Especially because pictures, videos and gifs take up a lot of characters. So maybe the expansion will be a good thing.”

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