I’ve been teaching with social media for a long time. I’ve used Twitter, Google+, and Edmodo with undergraduates as well as working professionals. In addition, my students create a variety of web artifacts. As I plan for a new semester I wanted to review my reasons for teaching with social media.
Social media helps build community by giving students another venue for self-expression and to learn about each other. Regular social media interaction gives us a window into the world and thoughts of others about it. I have made social media interaction part of an actual community building assignment in my classes in recent semesters and my classes have benefited from the experience and the support network they created.
Social media supports communication. I am the queen of thinking of great comments and questions long after a class or conversation is over. Thanks to social media I can share those comments and questions when they occur to me (and I do not run the risk of forgetting them before the next meeting because I am also the queen of forgetfulness). Social media also makes it super easy to share items that can continue a conversation long after class is over and possibly spark a new conversation as well. I believe that social media provides a back channel or third space which enhances communication.
Social media creates connections. There is a serendipity to social media when used for learning. I’ve written many times about the awesomeness that is my personal learning network and I push my students (advanced undergraduate and graduate students alike) to create a PLN of their very own. I do this because social media breaks down time and place in exciting and challenging ways and, yet, I am constantly surprised when I come across an article or idea or thought or question that sparks me in some way – often just the inspiration I needed at the moment. Making connections with interesting ideas and inspiring people through social media has made me a better teacher and a better person.
I hope my students’ social media experience will transcend the playground and discover the many benefits of social media as a place of learning.
I found the artwork used to illustrate this blog post using the Creative Common search courtesy of Pixabay.