Social media use for classroom/teaching purposes is controversial. Yet, over the course of the last decade, social media use has gone from being on the cutting edge to becoming much more common. If you are considering using social media in your classes, here are some things you should keep in mind.
- Students don’t necessarily like it. The early wave of social media use was followed by a quick initial backlash from students. But not liking a tool and not benefitting from that tool are different issues. If you plan to use social media, make sure to tell your students what you hope to accomplish from it. You may find them more accepting if the “why” is very clear.
- There might be FERPA issues at play. When we wander into the digital world, FERPA issues become very complicated very quickly. Please review this document to get a better sense of the scope of the issue. A good rule of thumb is to remember that grade information is always protected and should never be shared via social media.
- Know the tools. It’s easy to think of “social media” as a synonym for Twitter, but there are a number of social media technologies available to you. Remember that Wichita State policy, and the policies of many other colleges, prohibit requiring the use of certain paid tools, so like always, know your school’s rules.
- Social media moves very fast. Social media tools are in constant flux. If you plan to incorporate them in your course, make sure you are using the right tool for the job and you are not sticking with an old tool simply because you know it. The path is only useful if it’s where you students are walking!
- Don’t be afraid to innovate, but have a reason to choose the tool. Dr. Carolyn Shaw, a Wichita State professor recently ran a study that used a Facebook group for her discussion board. She was interested in connecting students around the globe, and Facebook facilitated that goal. This points out the obvious: social media is a tool to an end, and not an end in itself. Choose your tools for a reason.
There is an increasing amount of research being done on social media in the classroom. If you are interested in using it, you should consider putting together a small study yourself and join that academic investigation. If you don’t know how, IDT@wichita.edu can help. New tools are coming onboard everyday, and we can use all the guidance we can get.