Texting and tweeting could play a bigger role in teaching children at schools, says a new study.

Critics who argue that texting is synonymous with literary degradation should not overlook the role of texting and its distant cousin “tweeting”. These could play a bigger role in education and research.

Carol L. Tilley, professor of library and information science at University of Illinois (U-I), said: “Over 70 percent of teens have a cellphone, so I think it's a viable alternate means of engaging with that age group.”

“Teachers could send reminders about assignments, links to study guides or updates on their progress grading major projects by text or by tweet,” Tilley said.

“If they're away at a conference or need to use a sub for a day, they could use Twitter to stay in contact with their class without having to physically be there.”

Students could text reference questions to school librarians without having to ask for a hall pass or having to wait until lunch, Tilley said, and librarians might tweet about new materials added to their collections.

Texting and tweeting could be seen as continuing the tradition of play and economy in language, which Tilley argues is good preparation for more formal writing assignments – provided, of course, that the use of emoticons and text-speak don't spill over into their final drafts, according to an U-I release.

Tilley said Twitter, the popular micro-blogging site that lets users tweet text-based messages that can't run longer than 140 characters, is actually easier to integrate into instruction than text messaging because “you can broadcast tweets to a wider audience than texts”.

Teachers could also challenge students to craft micro-stories complete with a climax and a denouement in 140 characters, said Tilley.

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