Using Social Media to Foster Learning Connections


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Using Social Media to Foster Learning Connections

  1. 1. Using Social Media to Foster Learning Connections Sharon Stoerger and Dylan Barth DTL Information Session Friday, August 5, 2011
  2. 2. Overview <ul><li>Who are today ’s students? </li></ul><ul><li>Social media in education </li></ul><ul><li>This study </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Part I: English composition course & Facebook </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Part II: Social media & PLNs </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Findings, conclusions, & implications </li></ul>
  3. 3. Who are today ’s students? <ul><li>Prolific tech users </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Internet accounts </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Social media users </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Email? </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Personal lives – yes </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Academic lives – not so much </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Device preferences </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Laptops </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Handheld devices </li></ul></ul>
  4. 4. Learning in 2011 <ul><li>Social interaction </li></ul><ul><li>Active participation </li></ul><ul><li>Engagement </li></ul><ul><li>Communication </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Blended/online courses </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Social media solutions? </li></ul></ul>
  5. 5. Current Concerns in Education <ul><li>“ Crisis of significance” (Wesch, 2008) </li></ul><ul><li>Student-instructor communication </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Use of social media  up </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>97% of students use (ECAR, 2010) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Email replacement? (Roblyer et al., 2010) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Lecture alternatives </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Better learning (Saville et al., 2006) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Lecture = least effective (Butler, 1991) </li></ul></ul>
  6. 6. Community-peer Networks <ul><li>Greater satisfaction </li></ul><ul><li>National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Positive educational behaviors </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Positive view of campus environment </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Social media </li></ul>
  7. 7. Social Media & Educational Theories <ul><li>Edtech theories </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Behaviorism </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Cognitivism </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Constructivism </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Lacking? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Technology  changes </li></ul><ul><ul><li>New theory needed? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Connectivism (Siemens, 2004) </li></ul></ul>
  8. 8. This Study: Part I <ul><li>English 102: Introduction to Research Writing </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Blended course </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Structured around seven two-week modules </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>24 students to start, 22 at the end </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Students divided into two groups that met on alternating days </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Facebook search “UWMEnglish102” </li></ul>
  9. 9. Asynchronous Discussion Forums <ul><li>Four online, asynchronous discussion forums </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Two in Facebook </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Two in Desire2Learn </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Two groups of 12 students </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Alternated between FB and D2L </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Discursive forums </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Discuss scholarly and popular articles </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Discuss a sample student portfolio </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Discuss course goals </li></ul></ul>
  10. 10. Asynchronous Discussion Forums <ul><li>Required 250+ word initial post and two 125+ word responses </li></ul><ul><li>Instructor presence purposefully waned as the semester progressed </li></ul><ul><li>Students could opt-out and join the D2L group or write an equivalent essay </li></ul>
  11. 11. Why experiment with the Facebook discussion tool? <ul><li>Meet students “where they live” </li></ul><ul><li>Expand beyond instructor-driven site to create a peer network for research </li></ul><ul><li>Coordinate more dynamic and engaging online conversations </li></ul>
  12. 12. Findings <ul><li>No qualitative difference between student responses in Facebook and D2L </li></ul><ul><li>Discussions were no better, but no worse </li></ul><ul><li>Students did not seem to participate more on the Facebook site </li></ul>
  13. 13. Findings <ul><li>Facebook application shortcomings </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Lack of threaded discussion </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Lack of gradebook and rubric integration </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Lack of ability to rearrange forums </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Lack of “__ per page” function </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Lack of export function for in-class use </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Lack of support and sustainability </li></ul></ul>
  14. 14. Other Considerations <ul><li>Need to solicit student feedback </li></ul><ul><li>Experiment with other types of forums? </li></ul><ul><li>Synchronous, in-class Facebook discussion </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Michael Wesch’s “The Machine is Us/ing Us” </li></ul></ul>
  15. 15. This study: Part II <ul><li>Instructional Technologies </li></ul><ul><ul><li>23 students, graduate </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>K-12 teachers, librarians, info techs </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Fully online </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>CMS </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>D2L </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Walled garden </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Social Media </li></ul>
  16. 16. Why Social Media? <ul><li>Reach beyond the classroom </li></ul><ul><li>Interact with “experts” </li></ul><ul><li>Teacher-centered  student-centered </li></ul>
  17. 17. Developing a PLN via social media <ul><li>Find people you want to know </li></ul><ul><li>Find conversations </li></ul><ul><li>Expand the surface area – explore! </li></ul><ul><li>See also Jane Bozarth (2010) </li></ul>
  18. 18. Stages of the Learning Experience in a Connectivist Environment (adapted from Pettenati & Cigognini, 2007)
  19. 19. The Activity <ul><li>Select a social media tool </li></ul><ul><li>Started with ~4 resources </li></ul><ul><li>Expand network – 20+ people/ideas </li></ul><ul><li>Semester-long project </li></ul><ul><li>Reflection (Herring, Oliver, & Reeves, 2003) </li></ul><ul><li>Instructor role = “informed co-traveler” (Dron & Anderson, 2009). </li></ul>
  20. 20. Guiding Questions <ul><li>How do students make connections/PLNs? </li></ul><ul><li>How do students use social media in a course? </li></ul><ul><li>For an online course… </li></ul><ul><ul><li>What are the positives? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What are the negatives? </li></ul></ul>
  21. 21. Data Collection <ul><li>Student interactions </li></ul><ul><li>Surveys </li></ul><ul><li>Reflections </li></ul>
  22. 22. Social Media & PLNs: Findings
  23. 23. Connectivism and Student ’s PLNs
  24. 24. Students ’ Network Connections
  25. 25. Student Reactions: Positive <ul><li>Enthusiastic (e.g., blogs) </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>“ Technology is not just something that teachers and administrators work into their curriculum when they find the time or expertise needed. It is an essential part of our world today.” </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Technology = instant access to information </li></ul><ul><li>Technology  banning </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>“ Schools cannot lead students to believe technology is bad and forbid its use. It’s our job to teach them the educational benefits.” </li></ul></ul></ul>
  26. 26. Student Reactions: Negative <ul><li>Non-linear, “uncourse” (Hirst, 2009) </li></ul><ul><li>The information </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Overwhelming/fear </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>“ I was eager to try Twitter because everyone else has, so why shouldn’t I…Then, a few days passed and I became literally scared to open the site.” </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Quality & self-promotion </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>“ I find it hard to believe that so many people continue to follow contributors who so often self-congratulate, plead for support for online awards, or make frequent reference to their availability for hire as a consultant or guest speaker.” </li></ul></ul></ul>
  27. 27. Final Student Comments <ul><li>  “ We’re not going to be replaced by machines, but individual teachers will, I believe, be replaced by communities of learners. In those communities everyone will be a teacher and everyone will be a learner. We might not even distinguish between them.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ I feel optimistic a paradigm shift is happening in education.” </li></ul>
  28. 28. Future Research <ul><li>What do students contribute to their PLN? </li></ul><ul><li>How do students create connections? What is their path? </li></ul><ul><li>What device(s) do students use to create connections? </li></ul>
  29. 29. Conclusions <ul><li>Innovation </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Risky </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Students  reluctant at first </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Technology skills </li></ul><ul><li>Active learning </li></ul><ul><li>Social media = learning experience glue </li></ul><ul><li>Key = listen to your students </li></ul>
  30. 30. Thank You! <ul><li>Questions? </li></ul><ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul><ul><li>Sharon Stoerger </li></ul><ul><ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Dylan Barth </li></ul><ul><ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul></ul>