The Impact of Social Media in Education: Student Engagement Tactics
As technology advances, the average person is increasingly enthralled with the bells and whistles that such gadgets bring. From the newest iPhone to the latest mobile application, students across the globe are using technology as a learning tool as well as something to have fun with. While social media sites may seem like a distraction, you can harness their power in a variety of ways to create a more vital and relevant classroom experience. The impact of social media in education can be tremendous.
7 Ways To Use Social Media in Education to Impact Student Learning
1. Use social media as an online "classroom"
Social media doesn't have to take students attention away from their school work. It can actually provide the forum you need to reach your students in a more meaningful way.
By creating a private Facebook group, you can post assignments, lecture via Facebook Live, and answer student questions via comments and private messages. While face-to-face teaching has definite advantages, this is a great way to connect with students who would otherwise be unable to attend a traditional classroom (for health reasons or because they live in a remote area, for instance). Such a class could also be used to augment the standard curriculum for students who fall above or below the norm.
2. Keep students involved during snow days and school breaks
One of the key challenges for educators is to keep the momentum going when students are on spring or winter break, or when they have to stay away from school due to harsh winter weather. Posting assignments, projects, and discussions on social media can help students keep up the momentum in their school work and help you, as an educator, avoid having to go back and review quite so much material at the end of the break. This would be a good occasion to use a learning management system (LMS) that keeps track of student assignments and records delivery of student work.
3. Encourage collaboration and teamwork
Encouraging teamwork and collaboration can be difficult in classrooms with limited time, especially if your institution covers a broad geographic area that makes it hard for students to get together after class. Social media can provide the forum a student group needs to share work, critique projects, and to collaborate on an assignment.
One educator, a professor of art at Penn State University, created an iTunes U class where students could view and evaluate each other's projects. She amassed more than 58,000 students.
4. Interact with parents and advisors
While parents and advisors are a vital link between educators and students, it can sometimes be tricky to forge a relationship and start a dialogue with them. It's not always realistic to send messages home with students and busy schedules often mean that the parents and advisors who would benefit most from a one-on-one conference are unable to attend such a session.
5. Continue the discussion
With most classes, you only have an hour or two, at the most, to get students excited about the topic and encourage them to share their thoughts and opinions. If the discussion is slow getting started, you might have to shut it down just when it was getting beneficial.
With social media, you can transfer the classroom discussion to a Facebook group or similar forum and keep the discussion going long after class has adjourned.
6. Hone students' Internet writing and online research skills
Writing has evolved in the Internet age from writing in a vacuum to participating in the worldwide conversation. Writing on the web is much different from writing for an academic journal. Such writing requires shorter sentences, shorter blocks of texts, links to sources, and graphics to break up the "sometimes considered boring" text. However, these are skills most students will need as they begin their careers.
Having students create and write a blog has many advantages. It not only introduces them to the quirks and special format of web writing, but it gets them researching a particular subject or topic by reading articles online and in the habit of writing regularly.
A good blog also requires students to respond to comments and questions, be able to source copyright-free images (and upload their own images), and cite sources. It also provides a good start to a digital footprint for potential employers to see when it comes time for them to start their job search.
7. Learn from your colleagues around the world
It's now easier than ever to share ideas and successes with other educators from around the United States and beyond. By "friending" and following educators you admire, you can see what is working for them in a similar setting to yours and adopt their techniques to help your students succeed. In this global age, no educator has to recreate the wheel. They just have to put together a strong professional learning network.
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