Jessica E. Smith and Lakshmi N. Tirumala
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Abstract: Social presence, the concept that individuals have a sense of others as “real people” in mediated communication, is a pivotal concept in online interaction and learning. Social presence theory suggests that social media tools, such as Twitter, should build community among groups such as students. This could affect how much students learn. In this study, participants in a quasi-experiment (N = 76) completed supplemental class exercises for a mass communication course, either by conversing with classmates on Twitter or by individually writing essays. Participants who used Twitter had more positive perceptions of Twitter as a classroom tool, and these students had greater social comfort with their classmates. Twitter use for class discussion did not correlate with higher scores on objective questions testing students’ memory of class content.