At Purdue University in West Lafayette, IN, where some professors, especially those who teach in large lecture halls, have come to embrace social networking as an instructional aid. Using an application developed on campus, the educators who enrolled in the program have come to think of social networking via texting and online portals as a tool, rather than a distraction. Known as Hotseat, the application allows students to comment on the class and then enables other participants, including professors, students, and teaching assistants, to view those messages. Students either use their Twitter, Facebook or MySpace accounts to post the messages or log in to the Hotseat Web site to send text messages. The application resides on the Web; there is no software for professors or students to install.
Created by a team of developers that includes Kyle Bowen, Purdue's director of informatics, Hotseat was intended as a way to manage the logistics of teaching a classroom of 100-plus students. Bowen told the team's first stop was at online portals like Twitter and Facebook, both of which have proven themselves as effective social networking tools for people worldwide. The problem is that such tools allow anyone and everyone to 'connect' in a way that isn't always productive in the educational environment.