The Retweet of Academia: Using Twitter to Improve Information Literacy Instruction
Carroll, Alexander J
Carroll, Alexander J and Robin Dasler. “The Retweet of Academia: Using Twitter to Improve Information Literacy Instruction.” University of Maryland Annual Innovations in Teaching and Learning Conference, College Park, UMD, April 25, 2014.
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Previous educational literature contends that undergraduate students need more basic instruction on citation and plagiarism. Meanwhile, citation management systems such as EndNote Web, Zotero, and Mendeley are becoming increasingly robust and sophisticated. As a result, libraries have begun to create systematic support for integrating these software applications into their service offerings. The confluence of these two trends suggests an opportunity for libraries to shift the emphasis of their citation instruction. Rather than focusing on specific mechanics of citation styles, libraries can emphasize instruction on the topics of plagiarism and citation more broadly. Librarians should use this opportunity to develop new instructional models and pedagogical methods for delivering citation and plagiarism instruction that have relevance for students today. By using Twitter to depict citations and bibliographies as the “Retweet of Academia,” librarians can offer classic bibliographic instruction in an innovative and exciting way.
When addressing citation and plagiarism within one shot instruction sessions, librarians often fail to present these issues in a manner that has relevance for students. Librarians often focus on intellectual honesty and the potential ramifications of plagiarism, rather than explaining that by creating an academic work, students are participating in academic discourse. To improve information literacy instruction, librarians need to seek out new models for citation and plagiarism that engage students. By using Twitter and presenting citations and bibliographies as the “Retweet of Academia,” librarians can offer classic bibliographic instruction in an innovative and exciting way. Twitter timelines portray how discourse unfolds in real time, and in a visual medium that has relevance for students. Additionally, Twitter is designed to encourage users to share ideas and content. Like citation style guides, Twitter as a platform and a community has developed features and conventions that allow users to properly credit the ideas and content of other users. Recently, popular Twitter accounts have been identified as plagiarizing content, making this instruction timely as well. During the Fall 2013 semester at the University of Maryland – College Park, we began to use Twitter as a tool for teaching plagiarism within a select number of library instruction sessions, and plan to introduce the method into more sessions in the upcoming Spring 2014 semester. This lightning talk will discuss how we have used Twitter to teach plagiarism, as well as describe our early experiences with using this pedagogical method. We will also address a few of our goals for further research.