Social media continues to find its way into classrooms, not just on the cell phones of students but integrated as a teaching tool by educators. In a Pew Research study, teachers indicated that digital tools were being used by students to conduct research, collaborate, submit assignments, among other uses. Some are still reluctant to incorporate social media into their classroom, especially K-12 teachers. Last year, a survey found that nearly nine out of 10 teachers had not integrated any form of social media in the classroom.
However, those teachers that have found innovative ways to bring social meda into their classroom do so in a variety of ways. Mark Brumley suggested incorporating social media into lesson plans through role playing, microblogging, tweetups and frontloading. Blogs, wikis, podcasts and social networking sites have all found their way into classrooms. In uiversities, the IDE Journal found social media and other technologies to have advanced the democratization of education, allowing for more educational opportunites. Below, seven educators share how they have incorprated social media into their classroom in the ever-changing digital world.
While I taught a class focusing on social media for Georgetown University, I think the best way to use social media in the classroom is to integrate it into existing curriculum where it’s appropriate. I teach journalism and cannot imagine a class I might teach where I would not address social media in some fashion. I am teaching a beginning “Media Writing” class this semester and will require students to tweet sometimes during class. One class and a related exercise will focus on writing for social media. An optional writing assignment choice for students is to livetweet an event. Last semester, in “Advanced News Gathering,” I required livetweeting of events, meetings and breaking news.
For the fall semester, social media will play a role in a new class that studies the 2016 Election. You can’t own a social media account without coming across discussions on politics in America. Social media has changed polling, campaigning and how politicians respond to their voters. The class “Issues in Political Science: Election 2016” will use the election as a backdrop to explore democracy in America, examining the changes in recent elections in respect to technology and social media.
Many of our degrees have their own Facebook pages and promote our events in Facebook events. An example, the Game Design major has social media platforms on Facebook and Twitter to communicate with students, parents, and game enthusiasts in the public eye.
Both the UAT Game Studios Facebook and Twitter accounts are run by the Program Champion for Game Studies, Derric Clark. Professor Clark also encourages his students to create social media accounts to promote their indie games and to interact with the game industry on these platforms. Professor Clark has seen his engagement grow tremendously on Twitter just from engaging in conversations with like-minded people interested in game development.
Similarly to Game Studies, UAT’s Digital Video department are also active on social media. These students are aspiring filmmakers who write the script, cast actors, build sets, film the segments and edit and produce short films. In order to get funding, many students run crowdfunding campaigns on social media. On social media, they also promote their films with movie trailers, communicate with other filmmakers and casting agencies, submit to films to film festivals – all of this to make a name for themselves as aspiring filmmakers. While in the classroom, it’s common for Program Champion Paul DeNigris to live tweet or upload photos and videos to Instagram to promote his students’ work.
Many millennial students have a difficult time understanding what kind of information is newsworthy or news, because they don’t engage with business news sources. I ask strategic communications students to follow organizations or industries they are interested in and build a social media audit based on their findings. Using social media to learn about social media enables them to think deeply about the kind of messages organizations are creating and how they react to the broader industry and/or culture. Students need to think deeply about why organizations are engaged in social media and the larger context. The social media audit forces them to think about news, voice, and builds critical thinking skills.
Our school is very open to social media. In our classes, we seek to engage in authentic discussions targeting multiple perspectives, and accessing this through social media has allowed us to build relations with schools around the globe, including Pakistan, South Korea, Egypt and Afghanistan. Social media has extended the classroom walls and broadened our audience.
Nancy Caruso, Associate Head of School at Beaver Country Day School
Beaver teachers facilitate conversations with students around appropriate digital citizenship and social media behavior. Teachers are encouraged to review carefully the privacy settings on social media and networking sites they use and exercise care and good judgment when posting content and information on such sites.
It’s easy to tick off the negatives of the presence of social media in the classroom: students are constantly distracted, students lose the ability to read and write complex prose, students choose passive absorbing of images rather than forcing themselves to form human relationships. However, if a professor guides students to follow thought leaders in a field, students can be as up to date about conversations and emerging topics as if they were at a professional conference. If students select sources carefully, they can be exposed to a variety of views on a contemporary issue. If they follow links in selected tweets, they can pursue topics curated by some of the best minds in a field.
When I first started teaching social media marketing, I encouraged students to share classroom soundbites on Twitter with a class hashtag. The goal was to encourage sharing of top insights, but the reality was that students became more focused on sharing content vs. absorbing it.
Then, I said “no” to all social in the classroom—no sharing, no engaging. But that was silly because students these days rely very heavily on social tools, and the prospect of not having access to those networks—even for just a few hours—generated a lot of anxiety. This approach didn’t last long at all.
So now, here’s what I do: At the start of every class, I lead a session called #ShopTalk, where students share headlines or industry developments with the class (in person), and that kicks off a discussion. Think new launches, big IPOs, cool campaigns, etc.
As discussions go on, students will even look up a specific feature or development in real time in an effort to understand it and share an opinion with the class—which is not only fun but very much a reflection of the fast-moving nature of our industry.
Back to School: How 7 Educators Are Using Social Media in the Classroom