Active Learning: Creating Buzz in the Lecture Hall

Jan 30, 2015

Social media are increasingly visible in higher education settings as instructors look to technology to mediate and enhance their instruction as well as promote active learning for students.

I was given the good fortune to attend Senior Lecturer, Dr. Daniel Wang’s lecture this week. Dr. Wang is a faculty member of the Biology Department in the College of Arts and Sciences here at the University.

Lecture Summary:

Dr. Wang used Twitter in two distinct techniques:

  1. Introduction discussion to his lecture using a recent tweet on his homepage to distribute an article’s URL to serve as a catalyst for their lectures journey.
  2. Facilitate an in-class back channel that served as a medium for students to record and present their answers in real time.


  1. As students entered into the lecture hall, their attention shifted immediately to the projection display featuring Dr. Wang’s latest post to their courses group twitter account. See photo #1 below. As I scanned the hall, students removed their laptops from their book bags and clicked on the link provided in his post. Students got into peer groups and began discussing the content featured in the article. Upon conclusion, Dr. Wang shifted their focus in a guided discussion which eloquently moved into their days lecture.
  2. Students were given a set of 6 guided questions which draw on the fostering of critical thinking. Once students have worked through the problem set, they are given a #hashtag tied to that specific lecture. For this instance, students used the #250PJQUIZ6m to post their responses. See photo below. Using this strategy, the feed produced 150 plus unique posts. As tweets populated, Professor Wang began reviewing the answers submitted. Students were then given the opportunity to describe to their peers the sequence needed to populate the answers they provided. The real time feedback helped Dr. Wang guide the discussion, as well as the ability to address any misconceptions in the audience.

Please enjoy some of the photos taken from the experience.

1. Group Feed and link to introductory article

Twitter Feed

2. Live feed during critical thinking

Wang Live Twitter Feed

3. Twitter Feed Posts of Student Responses

Feed Posts