A Case Study Examining How the Use of a Module-Specific Hashtag Can Enhance Student Engagement among Journalism Undergraduates

Tom Bradshaw 1 *

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Abstract

The incorporation of smartphones and social media into teaching is entering the mainstream in Higher Education institutions as interactive e-learning becomes a key strand of universities’ pedagogical strategies. The use of such technologies is particularly relevant for journalism students, given the social media-driven context in which much contemporary journalism is produced. The purpose of the study was to explore whether social media could be used to encourage both in-class and out-of-class module engagement among first-year Journalism undergraduates at the University of Gloucestershire. The study focused on the use of a module-specific hashtag on Twitter throughout a single-semester journalism studies module, and the extent to which students used the hashtag in their own tweets. At the beginning of the study, a questionnaire was used to collect data about students’ news consumption habits and their preferred social media platforms for news. The findings show that the majority of participants use their mobile phone as the primary means of accessing news, with Twitter the most frequently used social media platform. Quantitative research on students’ use of the hashtag was then gathered by monitoring Twitter, with tweets subjected to content analysis. The study showed that the use of the module hashtag produced significant levels of both in-class and out-of-class student engagement, with engagement continuing after teaching on the module had ended. The findings are supplemented by autoethnographic reflections by the module tutor. The findings of the study provide insight into how social media-based teaching techniques could be used to enhance engagement among media students. In the course of the study, the pedagogical positions of augmented reality teaching and pedagogy-industry alignment are delineated and explored.

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Article Type: Research Article

Online Journal of Communication and Media Technologies, Volume 6, Issue September 2016 - Special Issue, pp. 1-16

Published Online: 01 Sep 2016

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