Friday, 17 March 2017

Uses of social media in learning and teaching

A couple of weeks ago myself, Simon and Pete attended a session in Social Sciences focussing on social media in learning and teaching.
Julia Davies started the session with an overview of what social media is, looking at some of the tools available and challenging some of the common misconceptions around social media.
Simon then explored how social media can be broken down into different areas based around the task which the tools perform. This was supported using the Conversation Prism which shows a wide range of tools, many of which wouldn’t necessarily be considered traditional social media tools.

We then had an activity where we broke the room into groups to look at the social media they currently use and thinking of ways they could use social media in their context. We gave each team a template to support the task. Which you can see here.
The main existing uses of social media we found are Twitter for disseminating useful information and Facebook for facilitating group discussion. There was some use of Google+ communities to facilitate discussions too.
Some of the issues that were discussed was around the openness around some social media and fear of students leaving a negative digital footprint. Whilst this is a genuine concern and students should be reminded of this, in balance the fact is that an open network can reach individuals you otherwise may not.
There was some use of social media as an alternative to MOLE discussion boards. This can have positive impacts because students are already using these technologies but similarly some students may not want to mix social media, often seen as a personal tool, with their formal learning. In any tool that is used it’s important that it is task orientated and students have prompts to encourage conversation from their tutors.
Another issue discussed was around student expectations e.g. will students expect 24/7 responses on social media and do staff feel obliged to. This, as with many asynchronous tools, needs to be managed and letting students know from the outset what they can expect in terms of how often it’s monitored and encourage students to help one another.
We are currently trying to collate some stories of use of social media in learning and teaching so if you have a story to share we’d love to hear at

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