Social Media for Teaching and Learning


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Presentation on the ins and outs of integrating social media in the college classroom

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  • Welcome to Social Media for Teaching and Learning, created by Staci Trekles at the Office of Learning Technology.
  • Social media and Web 2.0 allow students to create and participate in the web instead of just reviewing posted comments. Web 2.0 tools can be found at address all levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy, and can create environments where students can actively engage in the learning process. Social media has the added advantage of generally being free for use, and easy to learn how to use. Students tend to be very familiar with many popular tools, such as Facebook and YouTube, and indeed, many faculty use some of these tools for their personal entertainment and to keep up with colleagues and friends as well. When these tools are brought into the classroom, they become a familiar and welcome sight to many students today, due to their popularity. When we meet students “where they are” we may have a better opportunity to reach them and connect more meaningfully with them.
  • Social media has many advantages, especially the fact that it is often free, and usually very easy to use. These tools are naturally good at creating innovative and intuitive environments because they have specific purposes, and are designed for all users to be able to sit down and learn quickly. They also are easy to integrate into a variety of other online media, like BlackBoard, and allow for the quick and simple dissemination of information.
  • This infographic highlights a study done recently by Pearson in regard to social media at the college level. Many faculty were found to be using social media personally and professionally, but less so in teaching. However, about a third were using it in their classrooms already, especially Facebook, blogs, and wikis. LinkedIn has become the most popular platform for professional use, such as communicating and collaborating with like-minded colleagues. Teaching students about these tools, especially those with professional advantages like LinkedIn, becomes nearly essential to ensure that students are prepared for the world beyond college.
  • With social media, you can create lessons and online environments where students can collaborate, compare and share resources, contribute equally to discussions, learn from one another as well as people outside of the classroom, and get exposed to a variety of different ideas, cultures, languages, and media.
  • Of course, no tool is perfect, and social media is no exception. Much concern has been raised about privacy in the social world, and the fact that people may not represent themselves honestly online. On the other hand, some students and others may represent themselves too honestly and openly, and may share information about themselves that is not appropriate for the classroom. Luckily, severe privacy “incidents” are quite severe and can be easily avoided through education and taking an honest look at one’s own social media outlets. Students at the college level should be made aware of what is appropriate and inappropriate to post in professional domains, and should be helped along the way by their professors. To simply shun the technologies that students love will not help educate them about their proper use, but trying to use them with students and learning together does. In addition, it is important to note that we are not suggesting that all interaction with students be replaced by social media outlets. These tools are simply just some of the available tools for increasing student engagement, especially in the online realm. In addition to having students create presentations, write papers, respond to discussion threads, and complete exams, social media can simply be yet another way to create teachable moments and assessments of learning.
  • Social media does have the ability to make learning fun! One of the fundamental uses is posting important announcements and other information about your course. Students spend a large amount of time on social media, so why not reach out to them where they are? They are far more likely to get the message than if it is in a place where they must make a special effort to log in and view. In addition, group projects can be made more engaging using social media, such as having students share a Pinterest board and post different scavenger hunt items, or ask them to work together to collaborate on a presentation or other project. Social media gives students a platform for sharing themselves and their talents in a way that is easy and fun – most social tools accommodate pictures, text, and video in simple and flexible ways that are easy to view and share. Finally, by reaching out to students where they are, you are more likely to get them to see you and each other as members of a learning community. You are now no longer just names behind a screen, but actual people with thoughts to share. When a community comes together in this way, learning becomes more meaningful, relevant, and personal.
  • Facebook does allow for privacy! You can create Pages and Groups as a “business user” instead of using your personal account, allowing you to create a different persona for your class as opposed to your personal Facebook profile. And you definitely do not have to friend your students in order to enjoy Facebook as a learning tool. There is little to no danger of them seeing something you don’t want them to see if you maintain separate profiles, and protect your personal profile from being seen by those who are not your friend. Of course, on the other hand, friending your students can make them see you as more of a “human being,” which may be an advantage and desirable to you. Tread with caution in this realm, but know that many faculty do indeed friend their college students and experience nothing but benefits as a result, including collegial relationships that last well beyond the semester. The links on this page lead you to useful information about groups and pages, as well as some useful facts and information about using Facebook in a college course.
  • Twitter can be an interesting and hard to negotiate landscape – there are millions of 140-character “tweets” everywhere that it becomes difficult at times to separate the good information from the “flotsam and jetsam.” But, hashtags – those little # signs in front of everything – can help. Simply devise a hashtag for your class or assignment and now everyone can follow the conversation much more easily. For a great example, check out Dr. Fielding’s English 102 class and see how she is using Twitter to keep her students engaged with questions, announcements, and direct feedback on things they do for her class. The other resources on this slide will help you get started with Twitter, take full advantage of ideas for classroom projects, and even get a handle on hashtags with
  • Google has a host of useful features for educators and students, including Google+ social media, which is similar to Facebook. You have a “news feed” for posts by you and your friends, as well as various apps to communicate with them through. However, Google+ is typically considered not as popular as Facebook for social communication, although the Hangouts tool is considered a great alternative to Skype or other synchronous tools. Here, students and educators can get together online to chat through video and/or audio, as well as through text chat. Google Hangouts also allows you to share documents with other members of the group, and you can have up to 10 video call participants at one time. Google Docs, or now Drive as they call it, is also a great tool for collaboration, as you can share documents, presentations, spreadsheets, forms, and even drawings with multiple users and see what they are typing as they are typing it if you are all working on the same document together. This brings the idea of a collaborative paper or project beyond wikis to a whole new level, as synchronous chat can be occurring while you are working, right in the same space. In addition, for those students who do not have Microsoft Office available to them, Google Docs can be a great alternative, and of course, all of these tools are always free.
  • Pinterest is a neat and very visual service designed to allow you to share pictures from websites that link to those websites, thus allowing you to create a visual collection of bookmarks on related topics. For example, if you check out the OLT Pinboard, “Technology to the Rescue”, all pins are grouped as they are related to online teaching and learning, and using technology in the classroom. Other similar sites to Pinterest include and, both sites designed around similar principles of curating the best information about a given topic. These sites can help students improve their information literacy as well as their understanding about a specific topic, and you can create boards that allow them to look as well as add their own findings.
  • YouTube is well-known to many faculty as a place where great videos (as well as some not so great ones) can be found. YouTube actually has special Education channels now, where you can find curated content on many topics without having to wade through various videos of pets doing funny things (which are great, but not always that educational). There are a number of great channels dedicated to various topics that are worth checking out, and many different ways to integrate these videos into your teaching. Perhaps you ask students to share at least one video a week on a topic, or perhaps you ask them to review a video and post discussions on their reactions. Whatever you want to do, you can certainly accomplish a lot with a resource as rich as YouTube.
  • BlackBoard has some social media tools integrated into the Course Tools area, including Blogs and Wikis, which are tools for student-student communication and collaboration. Both can be used in ways that take typical discussions to the next level, and enhance projects and planning. BlackBoard Learn also has a chat room function under the Course Tools item Collaboration. This can be either a Virtual Classroom with a whiteboard or simply a synchronous chat, and these items do use Java to function. So, some browsers may have trouble loading them up properly. However, they are similar to Adobe Connect and may be a good alternative if you are looking for one. Kaltura allows you to post your own videos and they become streaming videos available for insertion into any area of your course. Also under the Mashups tool alongside Kaltura, you can integrate individual YouTube videos, presentations from (an excellent “YouTUbe for PowerPoints” service) and Flickr (for images).
  • Social media can be a great tool for learning, but the process of integrating it, especially the first time, may be messy. Don’t be discouraged – try and experiment to see what works well for your students and your class. Like anything, instant results and optimal feedback won’t necessarily happen overnight. Using social media effectively for your class requires a little patience, effort, and creativity to make it work well. Think about old activities in new ways, and see how social media might be able to benefit you. The things you might be able to do might be very surprising – and a lot of fun!
  • Please contact us and visit for all workshop notes, links, and training needs. Thank you!
  • Some additional articles and resources about using social media for teaching and learning.
  • Social Media for Teaching and Learning

    1. 1. Anastasia Trekles, Ph.D. Office of Learning Technology
    2. 2. Advantages of Social Media     Everyone is using it – it’s almost guaranteed to reach its audience Free of cost Naturally creative and intuitive interfaces Enable easy sharing and disseminating of information
    3. 3. With social media, students can…       Compare and share notes and resources Debate and discuss Contribute more equally Learn from one another Learn from experts and others in the field Get exposed to new ideas, cultures, and languages
    4. 4. The Flip Side: Potential Pitfalls     Social media is, of course, social by nature! Posts are not always private, although they can be made that way Students (and others) can say and do things we’d rather they didn’t Luckily, severe incidents are quite rare, and easy to avoid
    5. 5. Social Media Can Make Learning Fun      Post important announcements and actually get them read! Create group projects like collaborative projects, scavenger hunts, and round-robin discussions Allow students to showcase their unique talents and interests through pictures and video Build a community of learners by encouraging students to share and ask each other questions Encourage students to connect in more meaningful, convenient, and personalized ways
    6. 6. Facebook Allows for private, members-only groups to be created  Also allows for public pages to be created for a class to use for announcements and other one-way postings  You don’t have to “friend” your students – that’s a personal choice  You can create a “school-only” Facebook account strictly for your class activities  About Groups: m/about/groups  About Pages: m/about/pages  Great infographic on Facebook in college classrooms: visuals/collegeprofessors-onfacebook.html 
    7. 7. Twitter     Lots of neat discussions can be had in 140 characters or less! Don’t believe it? Check out ngl102 Keep students engaged and interested with short tidbits, helpful hints, and online resources Use hashtags to keep conversations related and easier to follow About Twitter:  Twitter for Teachers: http://www.schrockguide. net/twitter-forteachers.html  Ways to use Twitter in academia: http://academhack.outsid twitter-for-academia/  Twubs – great for following hashtags: 
    8. 8. Google+   Google has a large number of socialinfused features, including the popular Hangout tool Also, consider Google Docs as a collaborative tool or an alternative to Office    Google Drive (formerly Docs): m Hangouts: m/hangouts Google’s Education page with tutorials and more: m/edu/teachers/
    9. 9. Pinterest Pinterest as a teaching tool? You bet!  Pinterest can take information on any topic and make it visual, userfriendly and easy to categorize and share  So many resources are already available – students can easily browse and repin things they find  Similar sites include and  Pinterest Help Center: com/home  The OLT Pinboard: /pncolt/technology-tothe-rescue/  How colleges are using Pinterest for education: social-media/howcolleges-are-usingpinterest-in-education/ 
    10. 10. YouTube     YouTube provides a great platform for students to share and publish as well as learn We all know there is a tremendous amount of valuable content out there – just search and you’ll find something good! Armed with smartphones or other camera devices, students can easily create and upload their own work Great for reviews and study groups, presentations, and group projects    YouTube Education University channel: annel/HCScmg5b9x0xQ 10 YouTube Channels to make you smarter: 04/04/youtube-education/ Using online video in the classroom: utube-educational-videosclassroom
    11. 11. What’s integrated into BlackBoard?      Blogs – for student thoughts to be shared and commented on Wikis – for fluid student conversations and group document editing Collaboration – “chat room” and whiteboard function similar to Adobe Connect (requires Java) Kaltura – media sharing tool for videos you upload (yours or someone elses) Mashups – integration from YouTube,, and Flickr available
    12. 12. Caveats and Parting Thoughts Social Media can be a terrific tool for learning  But, it can be a little “messy” – there’s a lot to negotiate, and a lot to keep up with  No tool is perfect, either  Requires patience and a willingness to try something different, or think about an old activity in a new way 
    13. 13. Thanks!  Staci:  Alex:  Twitter: @PNCOLT  for all workshop notes, links, and training needs
    14. 14. Resources      Overcoming Hurdles to Social Media in Education: Great blog on social media in higher ed: Social Media resource round-up: Six ways to use social media in education: Friedman, L.W., Friedman, H.H. (2013). Using social media technologies to enhance online learning. Journal of Educators Online, 10(1). Retrieved from man.pdf.