Twitter, if used properly, can produce better outcomes among middle school students and enhance the way children learn in the 21st century.

"Our work adds a critical lens to the role of open social networking tools such as Twitter in the context of adolescents' learning and raises new questions about the potential for social media as a lever for increasing the personalisation of education," explained Penny Bishop, professor and director of the Tarrant Institute for Innovative Education at University of Vermont.

Lead researcher Ryan Becker used his middle school science classes to conduct the research in conjunction with co-author Bishop.

Becker found that 95 percent of his students agreed or strongly agreed that Twitter enabled them to follow real science in real time as it develops around the world.

Particularly motivating was the ability to interact via Twitter with leading organisations like the US space agency NASA and science-related programmes.

The findings highlight the potential of Twitter as a means to personalise learning and to expand secondary students' encounters with science professionals and organisations.

The study revealed that 93 percent of students surveyed think Twitter enabled them to interact and share perspectives with a global audience outside the classroom."When I have something important to share about science that I like, as many as 52 people (Twitter followers) can see what I tweet instantly," said one student.

Another student said they use Twitter for academic support by tweeting with other students about concepts, assignments and projects.

Ninety-one percent said Twitter helped them make connections between science and their own lives and interests."Twitter has made me think about things that I like and had me think about the science related to them," added another student.

Others said Twitter helped them learn about science in new ways that related to their everyday lives. Additionally, 81 percent of students agreed that Twitter helped them think creatively about new ways to communicate science.

Twitter is also an extremely powerful assessment tool, according to Becker, who recommends displaying tweets on an electronic "smart" board so students and teachers can assess and discuss them together.

Teachers can also ask students to tweet examples of specific scientific concepts like the students in Becker's class who tweeted personal examples of Newton's First Law. Teachers can also have students respond to scientific poll questions and share instant results with their class.

Students continued to tweet outside of class making certain topics a constant conversation. The 140-character limit also forces students to distill down major concepts like "what is chemistry," Becker noted in a paper forthcoming in Middle School Journal.

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