Twitter Film Festival Goes Live at Duke U.

About 30 students at Duke University spent a recent weekend watching YouTube clips and Twittering about them.

That may sound like any other campus weekend in these high-tech times, but the hours of tweeting and YouTubing were actually part of the “First Ever Twitter Film Festival,” organized by Duke students taking an introductory film class. After embedding short YouTube clips from 39 movies on a blog and creating a shared Twitter account (twitfilm), the students spent April 4 tweeting their thoughts as different sets of clips were screened every hour. A roundtable Twitter discussion followed the next day.

“Narrative enhanced by visual: Bateman’s projected model existence vs. the dark creature within,” read a tweet about a clip from American Psycho..

Negar Mottahedeh, an assistant professor of literature at Duke who teaches the introductory film class, assigned the film festival as a final group project. It complemented other social-media elements in her course, including asking students to post weekly papers on blogs for comment from classmates; assembling Wikis of movie-term definitions; and allowing students to use Twitter during lectures to discuss the material.

Ms. Mottahedeh, who discusses the film festival and her philosophy behind the use of social media in the classroom in a video on Digital Papercuts, said Twitter had made her students “very precise and concise” in their thinking. All the same, she said, it has taken some getting used to.

“As a person who’s been teaching for maybe 12 years, this is the first time as a professor that I look up and every single head is down looking at a computer screen,” Ms. Mottahedeh said. “And yeah, I wonder often if they’re paying attention. But it’s very clear from the work that they’re doing that they are.” —David Shieh

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