Wageningen set a new trend on 3 December with the first Twitter lecture in the Netherlands. The lunchtime lecture in Impulse was delivered by Professor Renger Witkamp to a full house. The outside world could listen to the lecture via a livestream and chip in with comments on Twitter. The topic was #studiedoping.
Professor of Nutrition and Pharmacology Witkamp’s lecture covered a range of substances uses to boost academic achievement. Chemical substances such as Ritalin, beta blockers and Modafinil were discussed, as were milder alternatives such as fish oil, coffee and vitamin pills. It did not take long before a stream of questions and assertions started coming in on the Twitter screen.
@AntoonKanis: ‘Is study doping unfair? More importantly, it strikes me as unpredictable and unsafe. I shall stick to coffee!’Witkamp explained that coffee does not provide a mental boost, but at best a placebo effect.
There were a total of 248 tweets from 87 different people during this first Twitter lecture. According to the university, a few hundred people watched the lecture from far-flung places, including from the United States, England, Indonesia and Sweden. For an observer it was odd to see three quarters of the students at the lecture staring at their smartphones. Is that not too distracting? No, says Wageningen UR’s social media specialist Gemma Kregting. ‘In the US and England there is already evidence that students are more involved if they can join in through Twitter. That way you reach people who never dare to put their hands up.’