Q & A: Student Perspective on Twitter Assignment

Ms. Bobbi Arrington (@bobbielle) is an instructor at School of Social Work at Monmouth University.   In this blog post  Ms. Arrington interviews Ms. Nadia Jeter, a BSW student at Monmouth University, who participated in Twitter assignment during an Human Behavior and the Social Environment course.  In another post, Ms. Arrington and Dr. Becky Anthony (@becky_anthony ), an assistant professor of social work at Salisbury University, write about how they developed and managed an assignment using Twitter in their Human Behavior and the Social Environment Courses. 

Recently, I sat down with Nadia Jeter, a BSW social work student at Monmouth University.    Nadia was in Professor Becky Anthony’s class when the Twitter project was started.  Nadia and I sat down in the back of a brightly lit classroom, papers and books cluttered the desk as her last class had just finished.  She has a bright infectious smile and a large personality that is charismatic.  It’s not surprising that she has become a major advocate for vulnerable and marginalized populations using Twitter.  It took just a few seconds for her to recall back to the spring of 2013 and the assignment.

BA:  What did you initially think of the assignment?

NJ:  I hated it!  I asked was it mandatory and Professor Anthony, with her nice smile and her hands folded (she imitates Professor Anthony’s hand expression) she said, “Yes – but don’t worry.  We’ll show you how to do it!”  I had just got on facebook and I hated it!  It wasn’t user friendly.

BA: How was it learning to use Twitter?

NJ:  It’s actually very user friendly.  I took me all of two minutes to set up.  It’s really easy, accept for the fact that you have only one hundred forty characters to express yourself!  This was a very good tool for me because it was so simple and I really value simplicity.

BA:  How did you develop your tweets and how you responded to replies? 

NJ:  (she laughs)  In the end I was actually very thankful that you only have one hundred forty characters!  Having only a few words made you choose what was important.  You had to take out the bread and just give the meat.  Because…yeah…you have to just give them a fact.  No explanation.  So if you retweet an article you just give them a brief statement.  Say you’re reading something and you say to yourself…this is so corrupt.  You can retweet and just say “corruption in the judicial system.”  The person has to look to see what you are talking about.

Tweet from Ms. Jeter during class assignment

Tweet from Ms. Jeter during class assignment

BA:  Is there a particular experience that you encountered on Twitter that stood out to you?

NJ:   Once, a particular rapper posted a picture of a sheikh.  He was an elderly man going through customs with his shoes off.  The rapper said something to the effect of stopping Muslims before coming into the country, something like “not on my watch.”  I responded to his comment, explaining that it was both wrong and racist.  Another person also responded to me.  Unfortunately, he was filled with hate.  He cursed me out and was very demeaning.  I basically just addressed the way he was speaking.  I addressed his racism…He called me all kinds of names. It was a very hateful confrontation where we went back and forth a bit. I gave him a lot of quotes like…I said that slavery cannot be broken if the mind is not free.  Respect is earned not given, People are shackled by hate and fear.  He changed his tone after that.    People then began to take my side…but in the end there wasn’t a winner.

BA: What was your takeaway from this experience?

NJ:  Even though the rapper tweeted an apology two days later – the damage was done.  The picture and tweet was already retweeted hundreds of times.  Not being responsible on twitter is like someone driving down the highway with their eyes closed.  Being on twitter is powerful – but it can be both positive and negative.

BA: What would you say to other students about using twitter?

NJ:  Stay open.  Like, don’t follow your normal interest.  I followed issues I would have never been aware of.  If it hadn’t been for this assignment that said that I needed to follow this certain population I would have never known these issues were there.    I feel I get better unbiased news – it’s not one sided.  You also get more news than is usually published.  You can get the meat and you stroll down to what interest you.  Usually the news is just what concerns the dominant society, those who are rich, those who are white.  It doesn’t concern you.. but on twitter, if you’re want something different.. you can find it.


Author: Laurel Hitchcock

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