Social media is all around us; it is used by students and faculty alike. It helps us interact with others any place an internet connection is available. Social media connects people to shared personal information like never before. If you choose, you can connect with others one on one through email applications or you can connect to many at once using large platform social media. Social media isn’t only for sharing pictures of children and pets, it can be used for making personal connections with students, creating assignments, and can be used for research.
Students crave a connection with their instructors, they are not looking for the professor that stands at the front of the class and lectures, whether they realize it or not, they want a professor to be real and interact with them. This connection can be made in the classroom but it can be difficult to connect with each student on an individual level. Connections with an instructor can create a connection with the material. To create some of these connections a faculty member may want to create a Facebook Page or Group for their class. Every student would have to subscribe but once they do, information would be shared through Facebook. This can be used for announcements, interaction, and even some assignments like group presentations or marketing assignments. The faculty member can also choose to share a little about themselves in this private group and therefore make a more personal connection with their class. Twitter can be used in the classroom as a way to bring out the reluctant student with the use of hashtags; Google documents can be used for asynchronous and synchronous collaboration; and you as the instructor can be in the middle and watch the interaction in real time and create the personal connection by interjecting with the project as it is unfolding.
Besides the personal connection, you can also use social media to help students complete assignments or complete the assignment through a social media portal. For example, students can use Twitter or Instagram in a Marketing class. These platforms offer many insights and analytics that are available to each user to see their individual global reach. Students can create a marketing plan and post using these social media outlets, they could collect the data offered by the platform and submit this as part of their write-up. Because of the far-reaching aspect of the platforms, it is possible that students would see a reach they could not achieve without the use of social media. This type of real-world interaction could get them walking in the right direction for a career.
Assignments that completely live on social media are possible, but grading them and understanding the whole scope of the project can be a little difficult for the unaccustomed instructor. Because of this, social media can be a platform for research. There are countless experts in a field on social media at any time. Besides the bevy of celebrities, there are writers, politicians, business professionals, sports professionals, and more. As the instructor, you could use these professionals as a source of information for your students. You could require them to follow a writer or politician for a month or week to see how their daily schedules unfold. They could see what the life of a writer is like as they are working on their next project. Following a politician on social media could help the government student to see the pathway, in real time, of a member of congress’ writing of a law or bill. Many of these professionals share not only what they are doing, but how they came about such information. Students can make a personal connection with these professionals and can use this connection for networking or just for research. The possibilities are quite extensive.
There are many more uses for social media in the classroom that could not be touched on in such a short time. We would be happy to connect with you to brainstorm ideas of uses for social media or any other aspects. Social media is more than posts on Twitter and Facebook, likes and emoji’s, social media is a way to draw the student in and make a connection with them outside of the classroom. And, isn’t that connection something that we all crave?