Why Use Social Media?
When used well, social media can be a powerful tool that enriches group learning processes instead of distracting students from course content and their peers. Using social media for instruction is part of a connectivist pedagogy that embraces technology as opposed to competing against it. This means that knowledge is not imparted to learners on behalf of an instructor, but is produced through the variety of connections established among the students, instructor, and social media technologies.
Many helpful articles provide pragmatic ideas for employing your own social media strategies in the classroom. We’ve included some of these in the ‘Resources’ section of this webpage. However, below are a list of three brief recommendations for you to consider when deciding to integrate social media into your teaching repertoire.
Make it meaningful — How does social media fit into your course learning objectives? Does it align with the outcomes you’ve established? Think about the activity that’s being facilitated by the technology. Would using social media, in this case, enhance or inhibit the learning goals you had in mind for your students? You’ll want to consider which specific tool supports your course goals and the learning activity in question.
Master the tool — Do you use social media on a regular basis? Do you find that using the social media tool you’ve picked is easy and intuitive? Explore the benefits and limitations of the tool prior to incorporating it into your course. Don't assume that all students are well-versed in social media. Be sure that you provide students with all the information they need about the tool at the beginning of the semester including technological requirements, proficiencies, and instructions.
Avoid unnecessary risk — To avoid violating a student’s right to privacy, be sure to use social media in alignment with UNT's FERPA policy. The social media tools within the learning management system are safe options because they keep student information protected. However, if you are committed to using an outside, 3rd party, social media tool, here is a broad list of best practices to follow as you decide on which is best for your classroom:
- Students cannot be required to participate in an open non-university network.
- Do not require that students share any information of a personal nature that is not related to classroom materials.
- Have students use pseudonyms to identify themselves whenever possible.
- Enable moderation settings for discussions/contributions whenever possible to ensure that no inappropriate, offensive, injurious or illegal content is posted, or any type of content that might violate another student’s privacy or rights.
- Never share or store any information relating to individual student grades or classroom status.
- If student work will be shared publicly, ensure that the content owner has granted permission and expressed appropriate intent before it is published.
Social Media in Action
Social media technologies continue to evolve, so will the best practices that help protect student’s rights and privacies. At CLEAR, we’re dedicated to staying up-to-date with recent developments, so as social media continues to change, we’ll continue to provide you with the latest, helpful information we have access to. If you have questions or concerns about using social media in your face-to-face or online classroom, please don’t hesitate to contact an instructional consultant for help.
Here are a few additional resources that you might find helpful: