For students with a laptop, it’s easy to switch off from a boring lecture and find out what’s happening on Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit.

Fortunately, for some University of Minnesota students, their participation in Web communities can count towards their grades, the Minnesota Daily, a campus newspaper, reported.

One of the more notable uses of social media at U of M is Leslie Plesser’s adoption of Pinterest for her basic media graphics class. Pinterest has become a notable way for designers and artists to showcase their work, so students are able to discover and get inspired by the work of others fairly easily. Plesser uses Pinterest to monitor students’ progress and see their process of inspiration firsthand.

Facebook is much more established in academe, having gotten its start in a Harvard dorm room. It’s long been used by students to exchange course notes and arrange study meetups.

But students in an interactive advertising class are taking it further, using a Facebook page to talk about lectures and post examples of advertising. They’re also encouraged to send tweets about lectures using a designated hashtag, which contributes to their participation grade.

A sociology class at U of M has turned Facebook into an object study, encouraging students to detect patterns among their own friend networks.

While students readily embrace social networksin the classroom, they offer advantages for professors as well. Many students earn a percentage of their grades through participation, and using Facebook and Twitter will help professors to accurately note who added what to the discussion.

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