Interpreting social media is a form of literacy, and posting is a form of communication. Users have to organize their thoughts before writing a post or adding a comment. Social media users must sift through never-ending choices of content, and must quickly assess what content is worth their time.
Both students and instructors need to be well-informed about the choices they make around incorporating social media into their lives. The same goes for instructors who use social media as a component of their teaching. A Master of Education, Educational Technology Leadership degree program, which includes a Social Media Applications class, can prepare you for teaching with technology and social media.
Over 40 percent of teachers have required their students to view social media as part of an assignment. Twenty percent of teachers have required students to comment or post on social media sites as part of an assignment. Interactions on social media can happen in the moment (synchronous) or spread out over a period of time (asynchronous). Students’ fears about using social media for an academic purpose mainly revolve around the minority of students who don’t like using it and don’t want to have to keep checking it to stay in the loop. Teachers’ main concerns about using social media in an academic setting are privacy and integrity.
For most students, social media is a comfortable entry point into a field of study. While academics recommend that all curricula consist of blended learning, using an online social element like a discussion page encourages engagement as well as an environment of students supporting one another. Perceptions about social media overlapping in school communities sets the tone for learning. Since the majority of current students perceive social media as useful and easy to use, they have already unknowingly decided that using it for a class will produce good results. The idea of social constructivism, with or without social media, motivates students. Social constructivism theorizes that learning is a shared experience. In simple terms, it means that more can be achieved when people work together.
A social media component of a class has proven to be helpful for traditional and non-traditional students. Students who live off campus do not have to miss out on collaborative learning outside of class. Social media can make lessons less threatening; therefore, students bond more not only with one another, but also with their teacher. Students perceive using social media for a class as a situation in which they have control. This perception of more control continues to draw in learners.
Preparing for the Future
Teachers who study social media applications may be better prepared for their careers. Use of social media and technology in general for students can better prepare them for the workplace, which is growing to be more technology-based as well as more remote or long distance. Becoming a leader with knowledge in the realm of social media and all kinds of tech is a savvy choice both inside and outside of educational spheres.
A social media component in a class also encourages students to work both independently and collaboratively in a single assignment. Most educators agree that true collaborative learning requires both approaches. If teachers feel nervous about incorporating social media into a class, they can remember that this new component will be supported with traditional forms of instruction to achieve blended learning. Social media also encourages students to support one another when working on independent projects, brainstorming topics they may not have discovered all on their own. Using social media for a class may mean small groups for certain projects and a class-wide discussion for others.
Studying, experimenting with, and observing the use of educational social media may help teachers stay ahead of the curve in instruction. Social media is constantly evolving, so continued involvement can mean there is less learning for a teacher to keep up with. Analyzing and evaluating social media practices before becoming a teacher may mean less trial and error in a future classroom. Ultimately, it is about achieving a modern form of literacy for both students and teachers.
Learn more about ULM’s M.Ed., Educational Technology Leadership online program.