Social Media in Teaching and Learning

Social Media in Teaching and Learning

What is Social Media? Why would I use it?

Social Media tools are tools that allow for social interaction and easy creation of content by users. Examples of popular Social Media tools are Twitter, Facebook, Blogger, WordPress and Pinterest.

Social Media can be an effective tool for teaching and learning in higher education. It can help connect students to information and help them generate a dialogue with their teacher and other students about a course. It can also help students and faculty build professional networks that connect them to communities beyond the U of S.

How could I use Social Media in teaching?

A Social Media Panel presented by the U of S and the GMCTE during Technology Week 2012 discussed the use of social media and technology in the classroom:


The following tools are currently used at the U of S and elsewhere:

  • USask WordPress: Blogs for students and staff.
  • Twitter: Share resources, connect with others, elicit feedback from students, all in 140 characters or less
  • Diigo: Your bookmarks go where you go (access them from any computer or mobile device) and you can share them with students, colleagues and others.
  • Delicious: Another social bookmarking tool. See Diigo.
  • Google Reader: Subscribe to Websites, Twitter feeds and podcasts much like you subscribe to magazines.
  • Google Docs / Drive: Collaborate on documents with colleagues and students and your documents are accessible from anywhere.
  • Piazza: Students ask question and other students or the instructor can provide answers and resources.



Using Social Media in the Classroom: Why There’s A Lot to Like

Using Social Media in the Classroom: Why There’s A Lot to Like

By: in Teaching with Technology

Are your students constantly updating their statuses on Facebook? Uploading selfies to Instagram at inappropriate times? Refreshing their Twitter feed every five seconds? Chances are the answer is “yes,” and if you’re like the majority of teachers, you find it mildly annoying at best, or a serious impediment to learning at worst.

Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be.

Many teachers lament the social media obsessions of their students; studies continue to demonstrate the largely negative impact of posts, pins, and profiles on academic performance. Instead of fighting a losing battle, however—social media is clearly here to stay—the problem of web-absorption can perhaps be re-framed as an opportunity. By approaching the nearly constant online interaction of their students as a chance to connect, teachers might find a new context to do what they love to do: teach.

A recent post by Laural Devaney explores how, with thoughtful planning, teachers can better understand and connect with their students via Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. The social media hurdle can be cleared when instructors decide to see the ability to reach students anytime and anywhere as a route to understanding, not an impediment to concentration and learning.

While teachers should be mindful about creating professional (not personal) accounts to ensure privacy, they can use social media platforms as novel ways to teach and share information, as well as to establish an online connection with their students. Gone are the days when “turning in” work meant waiting until Monday morning, as students and teachers can now discuss assignments at every step of the process. Teachers can create hashtags that allow students to tag their academic posts, and subsequently view submissions to see what the collective has creatively produced. Students can create Facebook groups for team projects, and teachers can facilitate as “guides by the side” when needed. And perhaps Instagram can be used a tool for capturing real-time visual concepts in the real world, not only when the student sits down to write a paper or work on a project in the musty library long after inspiration has passed.

A recent study, ‘To tweet or not to tweet?’ a comparison of academics’ and students’ usage of Twitter in academic contexts, found that although many students reported using Twitter in learning environments, their usage was most often passive and non-academic. As for their teachers, information sharing, event organizing, and blog promotion were the most popular uses for social media among higher education instructors. Forging and strengthening meaningful connections with students was not at all common among those educators polled—this seems like a missed opportunity.

According to the authors of the study, professors might expand their Twitter usage to host live lectures, offer off-hours support for students, or even host student debates. This type of social-media-meets-office-hours path is relatively unpaved, but if teachers are to keep pace with the changing nature of learning in the modern world, they should be open to exploring it. Any method to connect to the students who need extra support should be at least considered.

Ultimately, both students and instructors in higher education should begin to transform how they see the role of social media in their academic lives. Although personal blogging, posting, and networking might be the top priority of students, harnessing the immense reach of technology for academic purposes might be a close second. Teachers can and should establish the urgency for this new type of social media usage, and encourage the excitement, creativity, and passion of their students to drive it forward.

Now, that’s something that higher education instructors will definitely “like.”

Marie Owens is the director of education for Neu Academic, an online exam creation and evaluation tool for educators.

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Teaching, Learning, and Sharing: How Today’s Higher Education Faculty Use Social Media

Teaching, Learning, and Sharing: How Today’s Higher Education Faculty Use Social Media

Moran, Mike; Seaman, Jeff; Tinti-Kane, Hester

Babson Survey Research Group

Faculty are big users of and believers in social media. Virtually all higher education teaching faculty are aware of the major social media sites; more than three-quarters visited a social media site within the past month for their personal use; and nearly one-half posted content. Even more impressive is their rate of adoption of social media in their professional lives: over 90% of all faculty are using social media in courses they’re teaching or for their professional careers outside the classroom. There are big differences, though, among the patterns of use from one social media site to another. For personal use, Facebook is both the most visited site and, by a large margin, the one with the highest rate of postings. YouTube is the second most visited, but posting rates are low. YouTube and Facebook are also the most frequently cited when faculty report on their uses of social media in support of their professional careers. Nearly two-thirds of all faculty have used social media during a class session, and 30% have posted content for students to view or read outside class. Over 40% of faculty have required students to read or view social media as part of a course assignment, and 20% have assigned students to comment on or post to social media sites. Online video is by far the most common type of social media used in class, posted outside class, or assigned to students to view, with 80% of faculty reporting some form of class use of online video. Use of social media is not without its problems; most faculty are concerned with the time it requires. The two most pressing concerns about faculty use of social media are privacy and integrity: 80% report that “lack of integrity of student submissions” is an “important” or “very important” barrier, and over 70% say privacy concerns are an “important” or “very important” barrier. In spite of those concerns, however, faculty believe that social media sites offer value in teaching. An overwhelming majority report that they believe that video, podcasts, and wikis are valuable tools for teaching, and a majority report that social media sites can be valuable tools for collaborative learning. Figures are appended. (Contains 22 figures.) [This paper was a collaborative effort with Pearson Learning Solutions and Converseon.