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A student led approach to using social media for academic studies

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This paper will demonstrate how a student-led group with an interest in social media for learning evolved and went on to explore useful resources for both their peers and tutors teaching them at Sheffield Hallam University; whilst also helping themselves develop valuable employability skills.

The founding group of students who created SMASH (Social Media for Academic Studies at Hallam) set out to identify how social media could be used effectively to enhance learning and teaching, with a view to encouraging tutors teaching on their own courses to embrace innovative approaches in the classroom. As a collective the group considered how social media could contribute to formal and informal learning (Dabbagh and Kitsantas 2011); the affordances mobile devices provide in relation to social media for learning and teaching (Gikas and Grant 2013); and the implications of a professional approach to social media use and how social media guidance is of value (Suigmoto et al 2015, Rennie 2016).

They identified three key areas where social media was being used: within learning activities, as a means of organising learning, and as a way of showcasing learning. Using these they developed three strands to focus on:

Helping staff to identify and use social media tools for communication and collaboration within and beyond the classroom (Learning Activities).
Helping students and staff to identify and use relevant social media tools to curate and organise information relating to learning (Organising Learning).
Helping students to prepare digital portfolios to openly share outcomes and projects to develop a professional online presence (Showcasing Learning).
The team then identified what tools could support these activities and created resources in the form of a blog post and infographic poster. Their use of social media to showcase these outputs, demonstrates the third strand and an exemplar of student led extra-curricular activities that will contribute to their applications for the Hallam Award scheme led by the Student Union. The students will share what their motivations were to engage in this project, what the learning gains have been for themselves thus far, how they planned to extend the project to enable it to continue and involve other students, and ultimately how they plan to engage both peers and tutors with the benefits they have identified as users of social media for learning themselves.

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A student led approach to using social media for academic studies

  1. 1. A Student-led approach to using Social Media for Academic Studies Corran Wood, Jess Paddon and Sue Beckingham Sheffield Hallam University
  2. 2. Introduction to SMASH Founding Team Corran Wood – @CorranSHU Jess Paddon – @JessPaddonSHU Ola Mazur – @SheffAleksandra Sher Khan – @sherr94 In 2016 we all applied for a free student place at the Social Media for Higher Education Conference. After enjoying the day and learning about the current developments in social media for higher education, we decided to start our own student-led project. Core Aim: To be able to identify the aspects of social media in education which we could evolve from a student perspective.
  3. 3. Motivations “After attending the SocMedHE16 conference last year I felt like I’d learnt a lot in regards to how social media was being used in higher education as a tool to enhance learning. This originally motivated me to join the SMASH group as I felt like I could contribute towards the team and its efforts towards bringing an awareness of how social media can be used not only to aid teaching. But how the students can use various aspects of social media to organise their learning easier, as well as using it as a tool to promote themselves.” Sher Khan - IT with Business Studies Graduate
  4. 4. Motivations “After applying to attend the conference last year, not really knowing what it was about, I surprised myself with how enjoyable and interactive all the sessions I attended were and how much I was able to take from them. There were lots of ideas being discussed during the day, which helped us when we were setting up our SMASH group as we had foundations to begin growing our ideas. I hope that when I return to University next year, I can continue developing the hard work the team has put in this year.” Jess Paddon - IT with Business Studies Student
  5. 5. Motivations #SocMedHE16 was an amazing day and as my first conference I was surprised at how much I learnt. Hearing all the different projects inspired me to be a part of the development for social media for higher education and the input I could have as a current student. A year on, I am still motivated to continue our work and hope others will be able to take something from what we have produced. Corran Wood - IT with Business Studies Student
  6. 6. Learning Gains Attending #SocMedHE16 “Attending the conference itself allowed me to network with professionals in the higher education industry and also with some aspiring students I met on the day.“ Sher Khan Gaining valuable networking and team-working skills from this event was a real turning point when it came to other University projects I was working on and during placement year. Jess Paddon “Improving my networking skills from students to professionals was hugely beneficial. As well as starting SMASH which wouldn’t be possible without SocMedHE16!” Corran Wood
  7. 7. Initial Outputs ➔ Formation of SMASH ➔ Creation of Infographic ➔ Produce Blog Post ➔ Share Our Research
  8. 8. Three strands of social media use 1. Helping staff to identify and use social media tools for communication and collaboration within and beyond the classroom (Learning Activities). 2. Helping students and staff to identify and use relevant social media tools to curate and organise information relating to learning (Organising Learning). 3. Helping students to prepare digital portfolios to openly share outcomes and projects to develop a professional online presence (Showcasing Learning).
  9. 9. How social media can contribute to both formal and informal learning Connotations associated with social media often assume that this would generally only be useful within informal learning. However, techniques incorporated within social media channels, such as Twitter polls and Facebook events has allowed for students to encompass formal learning environments with the use of this media.
  10. 10. The affordances of mobile devices ● Most people have access to a smartphone ➔ Connect to multiple communities ➔ Available at a touch of a button ➔ Communicate easy & quickly ➔ Collaborate across platforms
  11. 11. Value of using social media professionally ● Create a professional profile to network & connect to others - Employers for placement year & graduate jobs - Follow up the conversation from #SocMedHE17 ● Add projects to LinkedIn Profile - Demonstrate practical experience & skills - The addition of our Guest Blog Post
  12. 12. Learning Gains Skills developed “Working with the other students, I’ve learnt about applications I didn’t know existed and how these can be used for the benefit of students and staff. I’ve learnt how to collaborate as a team, develop a group project and produce a meaningful output ” Corran Wood “Forming our SMASH team really helped us to bring all the ideas together, both from the conference and from our own ideas, and we could put this into achievable goals with positive outcomes.” Jess Paddon “Being part of the SMASH team we were able to effectively collaborate together, team work, communicate and also demonstrate our abilities to creatively think of solutions to problems that we faced during the project.” Sher Khan
  13. 13. Next Steps for 2017/18 Expanding the team ★ Matty Truman - Second Year - IT with Business Studies ★ Abby Butler - Final Year - Business Studies with IT ★ Callum Rooney - Final Year - Business Studies with IT Rebranding ● New Logo & Design Planned outputs ➔ The 7 Series
  14. 14. References Dabbagh, N. and Kitsantas, A. (2011) Personal Learning Environments, social media, and self-regulated learning: A natural formula for connecting formal and informal learning. Internet and Higher Education, 15 (1), pp 3-8. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1096751611000467?via%3Dihub Gikas, J. and Grant, M. M. (2013) Mobile computing devices in higher education: Student perspectives on learning with cell phones, smartphones & social media. Internet and Higher Education, Vol 19, pp 18-26. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1096751613000262 Rennie, F. (2016) The Use of Social Media Services at Scottish Universities. Journal of Perspectives in Applied Academic Practice, 4 (1) pp.19-24. http://jpaap.napier.ac.uk/index.php/JPAAP/article/view/167/pdf Sugimoto, C., Hank, C., Bowman, T. and Pomerantz, J. (2015) Friend or faculty: Social networking sites, dual relationships, and context collapse in higher education. First Monday, 20 (3). http://firstmonday.org/article/view/5387/4409 Wood, C., Paddon, J., Khan, S. and Mazur, O. (2017) Student Guest Blogpost: SMASH (Social Media for Academic Studies at Hallam) https://socialmediaforlearning.com/2017/06/19/student-guest-blogpost-smash-social-media-for-academic-studies-at-hallam/

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