Social Media 101
Educators are frequently trying to tie students’ interests and hobbies into their teaching techniques. When video games grew in popularity, so did educational video games. When the Internet became popular, the amount of educational websites increased. In the past ten years, social media sites have become an incredibly influential tool in communication, news reporting, and marketing. Teachers are now using social media as an educational tool for their students, and the result seems to be positive for all.
One popular way that teachers are incorporating social media into curriculum is blogging. Teachers provide prompts for students, and they write a post in response. The posts are time stamped, allowing teachers to set deadlines, and most are word count-enabled, allowing students can meet a designated word count, as many teachers do for writing assignments. Students can also willingly or be required to comment on each other’s posts. This promotes students active listening (well, reading) because they are then required to read their peers’ thoughts, reflect upon these ideas, and craft an intelligent response to their ideas.
Facebook is also being used in the classroom. In college, I took a course that met once a week. The class was highly reading and discussion based. A Facebook group for our class was created, and this allowed for an open forum tool that all could use. When starting discussion of a new topic, a prompt was posted on the class wall, and all students replied to the prompt using words, videos, images, or links. Students could “like” others comments if they felt that someone’s response was especially insightful or enjoyable, adding a new dimension of interaction. We could also post links to articles, videos, and other websites that coordinated what we were learning about.
Twitter is also becoming a platform for teachers and students alike. Hashtags can be used to track class activity. During my undergrad, one of my professors would post relevant job/internship openings, articles relevant to the course, reminders, and more on her Twitter account. Class members that followed her would get these updates and inside peeks at the industry.
No matter the platform, social media usage is a great tool for students. Since these websites are widely used by today’s students, there is virtually no learning gaps in usability. Social media is also a comfortable way for students to share with the class. There are some students that have so much to offer but are unable share vocally in class for reasons such as anxiety or shyness. By creating a simple post, students may feel more comfortable sharing more with a screen serving as a comfort blanket, allowing them to be open and express their ideas without being physically looked at and experiences those related feelings. Social media sites are designed for sharing, making it a great tool for sharing online findings or PDFs of relevant course topics.
Having course materials online also serves as a way for other students and teachers learning the same information to connect and share content. A hashtag of #BIO101 can show biology experiments, articles, videos, and more. Better yet, these posts are now accessible by anyone who searches the hashtag. Now, any person looking into what an introductory bio class is learning or discussing has access to these ideas and information. This could be extremely beneficial for teachers who are looking for fresh new ideas to illustrate class concepts, especially new teachers.