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Study: Twitter gives new meaning to 'power to the people'

April 18, 2013 at 4:02 PM   |   Comments

EAST LANSING, Mich., April 18 (UPI) -- Twitter can easily inform people about social movements such as Occupy Wall Street and even entice them to participate, U.S. researchers say.

Benjamin Gleason of Michigan State University's department of education said the social networking site and its 140-character tweets can be a better source of such information than traditional news sources and online search engines.

"Reading on Twitter about a particular topic will expose learners to multiple perspectives -- far more than is possible by reading a newspaper or even doing a Google search," doctoral student Gleason said in a university release Thursday. "Imagine how much more rich and complex our teaching and learning could be if learners brought such diverse ideas into the classroom."

Gleason has been analyzing Occupy Wall Street Twitter posts since the protest movement began in New York City's Wall Street financial district in September 2011 to discern what Twitter users learned from them.

Tweets tagged "#OWS," for Occupy Wall Street, contained a wide range of information about the movement, he said.

The findings suggest "powerful implications for formal and informal educational settings -- the most critical being that using Twitter can complement formal teaching and learning," he said.

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