Each week we meet via Twitter for #IOLchat to discuss current issues related to online learning. Participants include students, instructors, counselors, advisors, eLearning companies, schools, publishers, and instructional designers.
From Facebook to LinkedIn, social networking platforms are making an impact in educational circles. These tools are incorporated in classes to promote student interaction, and used as part of the career development process in which job seekers develop their own personal brands and connect with recruiters online.
As it is with many communication tools, social media can be helpful or harmful. What scenarios should students avoid? How can they put social media to work for them while in school? Here’s what our participants had to say:
Dos and Don’ts for Students
- Do: “Realize the networking potential … Everyone you need to meet is there.”
- Do: Watch and learn from others who are already active with social media.
- Do: Try it! Also good advice for instructors new to social media. You learn a lot by testing a new system out for yourself.
- Do: Learn more about what is public and private with each social media platform. Find out about account settings and consider what is “appropriate to share in a public forum.”
- Don’t: “Be afraid to follow your professors!” But consider whether or not setting up a separate account for professional and school use would be beneficial.
Instructors are Incorporating Social Media in Class
- Blogs are a popular addition to online courses and may be available through options within the school’s learning management system. WordPress and Ning communities were also suggested by chat participants.
- Social media can help extend class discussions in between face-to-face meetings.
- Social media assignments “help students practice and also see the real value in putting their ideas ‘out there’” with these tools.
- Challenges include assessment (with large class size), structuring assignments (frequency and quality of participation, class vs. individual student sites), and encouraging peer participation/commenting.
- Check out these resources: Best Practices for Teaching with Emerging Technologies (Thanks to author @brocansky) and Social Media for Educators by Tanya Joosten (Thanks to @TorriaB for recommending.)
- An idea for instructor professional development and graduate students: Mendeley is a free reference manager, and serves as “a kind of Facebook” for academics.
How can instructors help students who are new to social media?
- Model positive, professional use of various platforms – account set-up, user name selection, avatar images, and participation. “Students will look up to you and follow you.”
- Talk with students about how they are currently using social media, before implementing or requiring it in class. “Every class is different.”
- “Be sensitive to older students and how empowered they will be once they master new tools!”
- It may seem like “everyone” is using social media, but that’s not the case, even with younger students. Take the time to assess your students’ skills, comfort level with technology, and preferences for participating.
- Get everyone involved in the first few weeks of class. This is when students may be the most reserved or cautious, but it’s also a “critical time to foster community … show why the tools are important.”
- “Encourage students to respond to each other” via social media. Consider “extra participation points for those who reply in thoughtful ways to their peers.”
- Respond to your students – reply to their tweets and leave comments on their blog posts.
This topic was selected via #IOLchat Poll – Thanks to all who voted! And to @brocansky, @colemanmichelle, @artstuffmatters, @TorriaB, @Bio_prof, @GetSkufed, and @LauraMilli for participating in the live event.
For more from the most recent live session, review the chat feed below. Our past chats can be found on the archives page.
This week’s read-aheads:
Social Media’s Impact on College Students Explored from The Heights (Boston College)
This week’s chat feed:
Image credit: topgold, Flickr, CC-BY