Social media is where digital generation is at home and which transformed their way of communication and their focus of social interest. Educators had to acknowledge and accept that this created new possibilities for student centered learning and for building professional networks on a global scale.
How to go about it?
As there are many and various platforms and applications available it is very easy to get lost in the virtual world. One has to take into account trends and their changeability if the social media is to be used in education. As an educator, I had to go through the process of exploration and elimination to find how social media works the best (so far) and in the most effective manner within my professional context. And it is an ongoing process…
Each educator has to differentiate:
- according to the purpose: is it for teaching, student centered learning, self-reflection or professional development?
- according to the users: are they learners, collaborators or general public?
- according to the context: curricular topics or areas, feedback and assessments, projects, research, informing or personal interests.
This should allow setting parameters regarding privacy and access, available levels of communication, as well as volume, media and speed of communication. That will often determine when Twitter is better than Facebook or Google Classroom better than Edmodo, etc…
What I found so far regarding ….
Social media is priceless when it comes to global and instant collaboration. News, ideas and solutions are shared continuously and most commonly via Twitter in an open public domain (https://twitter.com/biobrigita). I follow contemporary #edchatNZ discussions and within our school we used Twitter chat in the same manner during PD session to collaborate with other teachers in NZ. Another valuable media is Google+ closed circles (e.g Mind Lab) which is the most appropriate for groups of shared interest without public access. Groups on Virtual Learning Network specifically connect teachers within New Zealand and my favourite are ‘e-learning: Teaching’ and ‘google Apps for Education’ groups. This allows educators not to be isolated and keeps them well informed of the latest trends regarding teaching methodologies, new pedagogies, policies and similar.
Teaching and learning:
Known as the educational version of Facebook, Edmodo is a virtual classroom with absolutely secure access for students and teachers. It allows access for parents, sharing of resources, creating mark books and contains message streams for teachers separately from message stream for students. Students were very engaged via Edmodo as it even mimics to some extent Facebook layout and they would navigate easily in the familiar environment. Any teacher that is in a school without GAFE or Microsoft license should embrace this media for blended learning and teaching.
Our School became this year GAFE School, so now the main portal of communication between teachers and students is Google Classroom. This is completely safe and monitored by teacher environment, which is a priority for educational process. Being a science teacher I may not require various social media platforms for successful communication with students or blended lessons as appropriate in some other curricular areas, however, it is very important to ensure secure environment for students which sometimes may not be possible via open social media if privacy settings are not properly maintained.
As much these are not all of the possibilities explored, social media that every educator uses must serve a particular purpose and therefore it cannot be universally prescribed. Various teachers and schools will maintain the social media venues that are the most relevant for their educational context, although every school needs to build the social media use awareness for their students as a part of digital citizenship skills.
Melhuish, K. A. V. (2013). Online social networking and its impact on New Zealand educators’ professional learning. University of Waikato.
Silius, K., Miilumaki, T., Huhtamaki, J., Tebest, T., Merilainen, J., & Pohjolainen, S. (2010). Students’ motivations for social media enhanced studying and learning. Knowledge Management & E-Learning: An International Journal (KM&EL), 2(1), 51-67.
Social Media in Education Isn’t a Fad, It’s a Revolution | InstructureCon 2013: https://youtu.be/61HsS2T-6Ts