Accomplishing a high level of engagement with students is an efficient way to make them feel more motivated to learn and to encourage them to get involved in activities that build up exploration, creativity, reflection and self-esteem. Picking the right solution may seem a bit confusing at first! Well, it shouldn’t be, since it is ubiquitous, and yes, I’m talking about social media.
Cherry Picking The Right Social Media Platform
Majority of today’s students grew up with computers and the internet which makes them proficient at understanding visual languages and rapid at performing computer-based tasks. These digital natives are also very comfortable with the idea of expressing themselves as well as consuming information through social media. As a matter of fact they’ve developed it into a routine.
Being connected, aware and keeping up with the world is an important part of their lives, and it mostly happens as an online activity. Beside real-time information, what they seek is a transparent environment which provides them with freedom to contribute in a constructive way.
Although challenging, from the lecturer’s viewpoint, this can also be considered as a valuable tool for engaging with students. If used in a proper way, not just for keeping up with technology, social media in the classroom would be smoothly received.
By all means the two most influential social media giants are Facebook and Twitter. These platforms changed the way we communicate with each other, and it’s up to schools and organizations to use their advantages to improve overall education effectiveness.
Twitter is a free micro-blogging platform that provides 140 character-long information for global communication. It can also be used as a part of the learning process and extended beyond the classroom’s walls.
Still, most teachers struggle with figuring out what to do with Twitter. You can start by keeping students up-to-date with the latest assignments, due dates and coordinating assignments or you can use it for getting feedback and follow the issues by starting a debate or tracking what students have to say, and what topics occupy their attention. Because of its character limit, many underestimate the power of Twitter, when instead it can be used as a tool for developing concise way of expression. Putting a deep thought in such a short post is not as easy as it appears at first.
Indeed, the latter is a strategy believed by some educators to provoke more thoughtful responses from students – the idea being that when they know their comments can be read by the peers and not just by their lecturer they not only consider what to say more carefully but pay more attention to how they write it and take more care with grammar, spelling and punctuation. (Source: BBC Active)
Whether it’s for posting sample questions, playing word games or making plans for the semester, it’s a dynamic and influential tool. And despite the fact that it’s a free platform there are still some requirements one needs to fulfill for successful implementation:
- A bit of creativity
- Ideas on what needs to be achieved with Twitter
There are also many ways these activities can be managed, so they don’t take much time next to preparing live classroom material. Social media management tools such as Tweetdeck or Buffer make scheduling posts to social media platforms much easier.
While it’s mostly used for entertainment, social connectivity and as a news source, there is a growing trend of Facebook’s use for promoting learning activities. Universities use Facebook for approaching their target audience, as well as for recruiting and monitoring students, while students use it to exchange course materials and to interact with other colleagues.
Now let’s look at some of Facebook’s advantages that make it suitable for learning and motivation.
Unlike Twitter, Facebook has more interaction tools:
- Media Content
Moreover, Facebook is not character limited.
That’s a well suited set for making your brand within which you can upload articles, provide additional resources, get valuable feedback and insights about what activities your students feel comfortable with. It can easily grow into course’s one stop shop for learning content. Ultimately, Facebook has recently announced it’s newest goals for making an impact on education – they are developing a software for self-paced learning at schools.
Comparing these two platforms it seems that:
- Twitter is more suitable for teachers to provide real-time information or to spark/provoke some thoughts/topics before class, while
- Facebook is better for developing and tracking students’ interaction.
No matter if these two are used separately or combined, they have a major potential to grow from distraction to a profound learning process tool.
Have you incorporated any social media platforms into your learning strategies yet? Do you and your students like the flow? If you have, please share your thoughts via the comments section below!
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