Has the latest Internet addiction actually been made relevant by a prof at UT Dallas? Quite possibly.

Professor Monica Rankin from UT Dallas observed the technologies (some) of her students were using and decided to adapt her lectures. Given that her typical class has 90 students in it, discussions become nearly impossible. This is similar to a system that Harvard has implemented that Diana Kimball discussed during the educational panel I was on at SXSW 2009. (Download an audio recording here.) With the UT Dallas Twitter system, TAs monitor the “backchannel” during class and follow up with @-replies or direct messages.

Professor Rankin starts off each class with the specialized hashtag for the current lecture. This allows everyone in class to track the discussion. Participation is not requried, but encouraged.

This video below is a good 5-minute summary of how her class works. It’s a little propagandalistically (is that a word?) positive, but the students’ accounts are convincing nonetheless.

Now if only Twitter supported mathematical formulas…