Should You Live Blog/Twitter A College Class?

from the questions-of-a-new-age dept

It’s quite common these days for people to “live blog” or “live Twitter” different conferences or events they’re attending, filling in others what’s happening in near real time. However, what happens when someone does that in a college class? Already, there are some professors struggling with the fact that students use the internet during class, but they’re not at all happy about the idea that they might not just be using the internet to surf around — but to report to others what’s happening inside the classroom. The issue is discussed in detail by Mark Glaser in his latest MediaShift column after an NYU professor told her students to stop blogging or Twittering things about her class.

The controversy apparently began when a student in the class actually wrote a guest “embedded” column for MediaShift a few weeks ago, complaining that NYU’s journalism school wasn’t up-to-date on teaching students about social media and the new tools of journalism. The professor in the class she talked about wasn’t particularly happy about the article, which was then discussed in the class itself (very meta). According to students in the class (and the author of the original piece), the professor made it clear that they were no longer to blog, text or Twitter about the class, or to quote the professor without permission. Considering the class itself is called ?Reporting Gen Y,” that seemed like an odd restriction.

The professor differs on what she told the students, saying that she only meant they couldn’t blog or Twitter during the class, but were free to afterwards. However, she stood by the comment that she shouldn’t be quoted without permission. Glaser investigates the legality of this, and how it fits with NYU’s journalism standards. That said, it is a little odd that it’s perfectly fine to quote or blog about conferences or other events, but once you’re in the classroom, a cloak of silence is expected. To some extent, this sounds like it may just be a generational issue. Perhaps it’s the actual Gen Y’ers who should be teaching the class on Reporting Gen Y.

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Comments on “Should You Live Blog/Twitter A College Class?”

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Anonymous Coward says:

oh yay, just what we need. as if the ones that pester everyone in the class via e-mail each week, asking for notes because they missed class due to *excuse* weren’t enough – now everyone can have free access to each others lecture notes, replacing ethical and responsible work with surfing blogs, hurting the class curve in competitive areas, and further allowing the lowest common denominator to enter the world mislabeled as an academic.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

If a student can learn the material and pass the exams, what consequence is the source or method of that learning?

If your course fails to identify students who don’t adequately understand the material then you are as much to blame as they are for entering the world “mislabled as an academic.” If, however, you’re confident that anyone who passes your course knows the material, and these students passed your course, then what are you complaining about?

Mojo says:

Once again, people (even techdirt) is turning the evil eye towards technology when technology has nothing to do with it.

Of course students shouldn’t be blogging DURING class, anymore than they should be texting, surfing, doodling or playing Pictionary. You’re supposed to pay attention during class, and people ignoring the lesson or being disruptive can kindly get the frak out.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Who's paid who?

If I pay you to speak, and then I record (in whatever form) what you’ve said, is there an IP violation? I think we need to be careful about what the exact terms of this employment contract were — and we need to remember that students pay to take these courses. The school is being contracted by the students, and so by proxy the teachers are working for the students.

Brian Rowe (profile) says:

Blog Away

I pay more then 30k a year for law school, I sure as hell am going to share what I learn. Sharing what you learn or don’t learn is an important part of being global citizen and helping free culture. I often contribute my notes directly to Wikipedia during class or live blog acedemic lectures. If I am going to take notes I might as well share them in real time.

Quoting with attribution to criticize is definitely legal. If the quote is copyrighted it is often fair use. Furthermore if the quote is not fixed by the professor it is not even copyrighted, fixation is a requirement to get copyright protection.

NotBob says:

Re: Blog Away

Seriously Brian?
“I pay more then” $300 an hour for legal council (just to put it into perspective), “I sure as hell am going to share what I learn.”

I have a feeling that when you get into practice you will have a very different view of things. When a client is sitting across from you twittering your discussion and, in essence, giving his contacts free legal advice at the expense of your billable time, I suspect you will be rather annoyed. Maybe even upset. Ya think?

Unless, by “helping free culture” you mean you are going to give free council. Right.


Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Blog Away

Wait. If Brian is sitting with a client, and the client is asking him questions, and the client is paying Brian by the hour… why, again, does Brian care where his answers are going? His work is being paid for. And what’s more, legal advice is one of those lovely scarcities that doesn’t really transfer generically — it’s not like Brian is going to say something that, when shared around, will lose him business.

crystalattice (profile) says:

How is it different from offering podcasts?

Many schools or instructors are offering their courses via various means, such as podcasts or downloadable notes. How is this any different?

If the students, who are paying for their education, choose to screw off during class, that’s their problem. The instructor should write the tests in such a way as to actually measure the amount of knowledge a person has gained, ideally by attending class. However, if someone is smart enough to skip class yet still pass the exam based on notes, reading the text book, etc., what harm is done?

It’s the job of the instructor to ensure the student has learned the material, not babysit them. If was a professor (and I plan on doing that when I get out of the military), I would focus on being able to use the information taught rather than just rote memorization or multiple choice.

Vince says:

No agree

I can’t defend this. I believe this material should not be posted outside of the classroom for a few reasons. Number one reason is the fact that this material is not owned by the student. What happens if the student posts a copyrighted piece that the University or professor paid for and the student finds themselves in hot water? It is actually a form of plagiarism and I’m sure most professors will act on it if they find their hard work on the internet for any student, professional, journal, and other academics to come along and ‘burrow’ without permission.

Universities usually have some sort of internal CMS such as Blackboard or WebCT that allows them to share classroom material and most professors actively use these systems. Theres no excuse.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: No agree

“What happens if the student posts a copyrighted piece that the University or professor paid for and the student finds themselves in hot water?”

Then take appropriate action against the persons responsible for the offending action. I don’t see how this impacts whether or not students can blog or Twitter durring class. just because they MIGHT do something stupid, that’s no excuse to cut them off from all the other valid and reasonable uses of technology, even if it is “For their own good.”

Paul says:

Re: wiire tap law

That’s odd, as if you wanted to record a conversation, only *one* person needs to be aware that it is being recorded. Plus, we’re not talking about recording. I don’t know how we jumped from blogging/twittering to video recording. Blogging about something is NOT recording and twittering obviously can’t record something as it just doesn’t have the specs to do so.

Lisa Creech Bledsoe (user link) says:

More than one way

I find it amazing that anyone could believe that the *only* way to learn is to sight up straight in your chair and listen exclusively to what the teacher says for how ever many hours it takes. We have homeschooled our three boys and only one of them learns well that way. And in my work I’m almost never doing just one thing at a time. I think the newer generations are more and more hardwired to be able to take in five things at once, and be learning in even more ways than before.

E says:

A lot of people seem to be focused on whether or not this is a distraction. Whatever happened to professors, teachers, and other instructors being able to set the rules for their own classrooms? People keep saying “different people learn differently,” but the same could be said about different teachers. Students and teachers are not equals; students are subordinate to teachers, and should respect the instructors, who are (presumably) more informed and experienced. A professor can’t control what students do outside of class, but there’s no reason she can’t control what happens in class, and set ground rules and preferences for outside activities that pertain directly to her classroom.

CD says:

Re: Rules of Engagement

I agree that a teacher/professor should be able to set rules in his or her classroom. I do think the argument about whether or not using Twitter in class is a distraction or not has value. The question was posed in a way that implied that Twitter is being used to take notes, which predicates paying attention to the discussion enough to make a mental reaction and record it.

It seems to me that Twittering notes is very similar to handwriting notes in a notebook. The becomes then, how widely and quickly are those notes shared. There is also some validity to the question of copying and pasting portions of a professor’s presentation into Twitter along with the notes without attribution to the professor.

Study groups have existed forever, but the scope was pretty limited. Twitter allows for the discussion to become far more widely available if anybody is interested in following it. It doesn’t really change the kernel of the discussion, but it has the potential to amplify any reactions to it, positive or negative.

Just wondering (profile) says:

In my days

B.C. – Before Cpmputers, the school/s I attended had note takers in many classes. One would sign up and pay for their services through the Student Union.

Even though I tried to attend all class sessions [I was paying for them myself, with no help from others], it was helpful as an additional study aid to have these notes, taken from someone else’s perspective.

Robert Talbert (user link) says:


I’m a college professor, and I would have absolutely no problem, personally, with somebody liveblogging or Twittering my courses, as long as one condition is met: You make the blog posts and/or tweets publicly accessible to everyone, including me.

This way, I can follow the posts/tweets and see if they are being used for actual intellectual processing (or at least note-taking) versus complaints or idle off-topic commentary; I could add my own comments to what students are saying; and I can distinguish the blogging by students who are doing well in the course from those who are not (and tell the ones who are not to stop the twittering and pay attention).

John Kwag (user link) says:

Re: Reciprocity

BRAVO! Exactly. Education is meant to be a dialogue…or rather a back and forth on many levels. Socratic method taken to the nth degree.

okay that was hyperbolic.

regardless…most people on this site are missing the irony of this.

The class being taught should reflect the subject being taught.

Pedagogical theory and the damn design of the course itself scream out for this. This professor who is teaching about Generation Y really did not think things through. In all honesty, boycott this class ( mind you I am not saying this professor who might be perfectly fine for other classes) is offerring a very poor learning experience especially in regards to participatory media.

Hell this is a way to engage your students on a deeper level…

It would be heartening however…if in defiance of this that everyone was liveblogging and twittering the class from now on.

Anonymouse Coward says:

Let them Twitter away

Because they will fail all of the tests because they weren’t paying attention in class. Although I do agree that it can be a huge distraction for other students who actually care about learning. Here’s an idea, disconnect yourself from the internet for the 1 hour that you spend in class and spare us the debate about it because we don’t care.

Rosa says:

I Want My New Media!

As a journalism student I think it is fine for students to have a twitter or a blog. My school, the University of Missouri is unique in that the university has partnered with so that we Gen Y students can not only learn about new media technology but actually use it on a regular basis as part of our coursework.

Whether universities catch on or not, new media is the future and students ought to be able to participate. Furthermore, it seems illogical for a journalism professor to object to the free flow of information and ideas. This technology is especially relevant for journalists since we need access to rapidly changing news information, and the ability to compare news stories and assess biases.

It can be used as a learning tool and ought to be embraced.

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