Educators can change the way we use social media.
Since their inception, social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn have become virtual living spaces where people spend hours interacting with friends and family. In fact, in a 2017 survey, tech analyst company ReportLinker found that nearly half (46 percent) of Americans check their smartphones before they even get out of bed in the morning. (And we’ll wager you’ve checked your own social media channels within the last hour!)
Harnessing the power of social media
If educators harness the power of these platforms as part of their virtual classrooms, social media can be an especially effective tool in their online learning arsenal. Both learners and instructors can use social media to create a well-rounded and engaging learning experience.
1. Communication and Connection
Online learning opens doors for a lot of learners. However, while online is an effective tool, many learners miss the social aspect of the traditional learning environment. If you incorporate social media, you can help to fill in that gap by creating a virtual classroom environment. It provides a place for learners to get to know each other and their instructors, as well as allowing learners to work and collaborate with each other (just like they would in a traditional classroom).
2. Concepts into Context
For many learners, classroom theory often feels like abstract theory. If the instructor lays the groundwork, social media can provide a place for learners to see concepts in action. Professionals talk about and promote their work on social media channels, often showcasing real-world application of classroom theory. If learners are directed toward these conversations, they can see the principles in action, observe how those principles may need to bend or change and understand the problem-solving process other professionals use to find solutions.
Using social media as part of the learning experience gives learners better access to their educators and peers, which is a great benefit. Furthermore, it gives them a place to ask questions of experts and online communities in real time. Learners may find industry professionals on platforms such as LinkedIn who love to share their knowledge, or they may find an association message board that meets their needs. Both communities have groups or discussion threads where learners can ask questions, participate in discussions and develop professional relationships.
4. Content Curation
Instructors can use social media as a crowd-sourced pool for content. Regardless of what field or interest you’re teaching, there will be people on social media who are also interested in it. They share articles and resources with each other that you can use to keep your content both engaging and relevant.
5. Build a Professional Presence and Showcase Work
Once learners complete their education, ”who you know” is an integral part of the job-seeking process. Learners who regularly engage with industry professionals through social media already have a foot in the door. Additionally, social media is a great place for learners to showcase work while still in school, allowing them to graduate with an existing and compelling portfolio.
Social media has become an indispensable piece of everyday culture. This phenomena is not limited to a single generation. If educators use social media with thought and care, it can be a useful and even priceless tool. In our next article, we’ll discuss best practices and practical tips for how to build and grow social media for the virtual classroom.
We would love to hear ways you use social media in the classroom to benefit learners. Follow us on LinkedIn and tell us how!