Friday, September 16, 2011

Social media in the college classroom

Recently a listserv question asked how to incorporate social media into a class. I sent a response that has left me with a full email inbox and so it ends up here in the hopes readers may find it of interest.
I use social media in all of my classes in one way or another. I do believe it should have a pedagogical purpose for being in the class when used with course content---so I don’t like when profs add it just to add it. It should serve a purpose to reinforce the instruction. I encourage you to use social media as a way that helps the students to better understand and relate to their course content. My favorite teaching tool is Twitter, but here are some general ideas for a variety of social media (see below). Most are free and many the students use regularly anyway. I hope you may find this information useful.

 You could have the students analyze mock Facebook or LinkedIn pages (or as a small group they could even create a Facebook/LinkedIn page, blog, or wiki for a fake/real company) to show they understand the idea of professionalism, image construction for multiple audiences, the impact of web-based social media, a company’s position on an issue, etc. This could be interesting considering controversial companies like BP, for example.

OR: Send them on a Twitter search (or have them monitor the Tweets) to explore how/why certain celebrities or politicians or companies Tweet certain information (why did Taylor Swift tell her followers she was “eating homemade cupcakes, yum”) when they are fans of her MUSIC? Does it create identification between the company/celebrity and the individual…how could such posts/tweets be beneficial or detrimental to the image of company/celebrity? Use Twitter with a hashtag for the class and have the class find content that might be useful and link it with the hashtag and re-tweeting. In my advanced public speaking course, students are required to tweet at least 3 times a week on content related to the course materials for that week. Students in large lectures can even tweet a live stream up on a screen while you speak to stay involved and active in the discussion.

OR: Have the class create a wiki! This is a great tool built in many Learning Management Systems (LMS) like Blackboard. Put the class in 3 or 4 groups and let them create a wiki with videos from youtube or vimeo while linking it to course-specific content. I have my students select ANY topic and they have to incorporate at least 3 chapters of content to that topic. So last summer a group chose Police Brutality in New Orleans…and they added links to court cases for the Danzinger Bridge case, a video of Rodney King, a link to a speech by the Chief of Police, and blended their content with our ideas of audience, public speaking, ethos, logos, pathos, etc. It is collaborative, creative, and FREE. They were able to explore new, collaborative technology while applying communication course content. They loved it and we all learned from each group while they formally presented it to the class.

OR: Have students create and market their own videos involving the content of the course. They can make a PRIVATE group on an LMS or through vimeo, youtube or through some other video-sharing services (I use – They collaborate, synthesize information, create, and post for the rest of the class to view.

OR: Have students use or (in groups or individually) to put together resources and information (again, you can have them do a formal presentation OR partner this with a wiki, blog, twitter, linkedin, etc. option on a topic of their choice.

OR: You can use the social media as a way to stay in touch and be available to the students. I offer virtual office hours alongside my traditional office hours and can be IM’d by students during this time…we also do optional exam review sessions for extra help via IM. If you are concerned about privacy, consider staying within the LMS or using ConnectYard.

How to get started: 
I would first explore your institutional policy on social media. Then, I want to note that it is best to consider what type of social media your students are comfortable with. Lastly, consider what type you are comfortable with. Then, I would recommend you explore issues of privacy and access. Those questions will help you determine what type and use of social media is right for your class. If you want public access option consider Twitter, but if you want a more private option, consider the LMS wiki or blog features (or make a private page/restrict authors at Blogger or Wordpress or Wikispaces). As with any assignment, share with the students guidelines or rubrics.

I have a few of earlier entries on similar topics that you might find helpful:

Please share any successful ideas that you have for class activities! I wish you the best of luck! 

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1 comment:

  1. In the academic setting there are various application as well. It depends on how you utilize them.