Social Media and Waterboarding

I couple of weeks ago on this blog, I shared a tweet by Colin Morris, a student at Kent State University in Ohio.  His comment (via Twitter) was, “44% OF MY U.S. HISTORY CLASS THINKS WATERBOARDING IS A SURFING TERM. I take back everything I’ve said about these ‘clickers’ being useless.”  After I shared this tweet on my blog, a few interesting things happened.

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  1. Colin Morris, the student who tweeted this (on the left above), found out about my blog post via Twitter and commented on my blog post, indicating that he saw pedagogical value in clickers but objected to the cost of his clicker, particularly as a senior who won’t use it in future courses.
  2. Then Twitter user @iclickercrs, apparently affiliated with the i>clicker company, tweeted about my blog post.  Another Twitter user, @JonathanRose, a professor at Queen’s University in Ontario, Canada (on the right above), saw this tweet and decided to see how many of his (Canadian) students knew what waterboarding is.  He contacted Colin Morris, who directed Jonathan to the Kent State University instructor who posed this clicker question during class, John Jameson.  Jonathan Rose then used the same question in his introductory political science course.
  3. Jonathan then posted the results of both questions–the student responses from Kent State and the ones from his Queen’s University students.  Here are the results [PDF].  As you can see, only 28% of his students thought that waterboarding is a surfing term.  Also, more of his students than the Kent State students viewed waterboarding more as torture than an interrogation technique.
  4. To bring things full circle, Jonathan Rose tweeted about these results and @iclickercrs re-tweeted Jonathan’s tweet.  I saw this re-tweet, then tracked down Jonathan.  He let me know about items 2 and 3 above, filling in the gaps in my knowledge of this whole social media process.

Watching this all unfold has been very interesting, not only for the interesting uses and reactions to clicker questions, but for the way that Twitter has facilitated connections that might not have happened otherwise.

One Last Update: Colin Morris blogged about this, too, noting the importance of keeping in mind potential audiences when using social media.

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