OPPORTUNITIES, INTRICACIES AND COMPLEXITIES
Not so long ago, educators and policy makers were heralding the rise of the SMART classrooms.
Now, they are heralding the rise of the SOCIAL classroom.
Like it or not, Social media is an ingrained part of today’s society and lifestyles. Our students are constantly on ALL kinds of social media. Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, you name it, they probably be on it. These days, students are becoming more technologically smarter and more schools are embracing the social media revolution.
If you haven’t noticed it-The future of learning and teaching has arrived and it’s been here for quite a while.Want to bring the “real world” into the classroom? Well, you will first have to integrate social media into your planning process.
That is because the Virtual World is the ‘Real World’ to the new and future generations that we will encounter in our classrooms. When used carefully, social media can potentially be a useful teaching and learning tool rather than a distraction or even a threat.
Proponents who advocate using social media argue that it not only brings current technology to the classroom, but it also helps bridge the digital divide among generations, classes, geographical distances and socio-economic conditions. Also, educational theories seem to suggest the potential good that can arise out of utilising and integrating social media in teaching and learning.
One such theory that may be relevant in this context would be social constructivism, which is grounded in social learning theory. It posits that learners gain the most benefits when they interact with other learners.
According to social constructivists, the strongest determinant of students’ success in the learning process is their ability to form or participate in small discussion groups. In fact, it was even proposed that this is even more important than teaching styles. Through learning socially, students were more likely to be more engaged in their studies, better prepared for lessons, and benefited significantly more than those who studied individually.
So with all these opportunities, why are some educators still resisting and not embracing the Social Media Revolution?
In my opinion, one reason could be due to the myth and misconceptions surrounding the integration of social media in the classroom context. Having worked with teachers, one common myth and misconception about social media in the classroom is that students will end up Tweeting, Facebooking and Snapchatting while we are trying to teach. Admittedly, that will inevitably happen whether we integrate or not integrate social media in the classroom. As educators, we still have to focus on the task and challenge as best as we possibly could and it all starts with the mindset.
Firstly, social media for learning is different from social media for socializing.
These are two completely different mindsets and that should be clearly stated at the start of any class or lesson. This not only sets the class on a right tone but also indicates clearly to students of the learning goals in mind.
Secondly, there are sites and apps specifically created and curated for social media learning.
These include Twiducate, Edmodo, Minecraft, or Kahoot. Accounts are free to use and easy to set up. Best of all, they have already been tried and tested by the larger teaching community and the reviews have been rave.
Thirdly, Mainstream social media sites can be reinvented for learning purposes.
Consider using Skype for video calls, group chats, file sharing and screen sharing purposes.
How about using Google docs and drive for live group work such as presentations, documents and spreadsheets?
Or creating a special Facebook Channel to share interesting articles, facts or videos? Or even a blog as an online resource centre or reflective tool? The myriad of possibilities are countless and all it takes is an open heart and mind.
There are complexities to be addressed, considered and tackled.
Consideration 1- Alignment with Course goals, skills and key learning outcomes
In addition to following school policies, educators inspiring learning via social media and expecting students to access these tools outside of the classroom should make sure that parents are aware of expectations, and the intended goals and benefits.
Consideration 2- Successful Technology integration
Effective technology integration is achieved when its use supports curricular goals. It must support the four key components of learning: active engagement, participation in groups, frequent interaction and feedback, and connection to real-world expert application.
Consideration 3- Contribution to the greater online community
Central to social learning theory is the concept of developing, creating and contributing meaningfully to a community of practice where the learning and the conversation continues even after the lesson has already ended.
As technology lurges forward, educators continue to tread the fine line between its practical uses and the risks associated with virtual learning. However, Well considered school policies and safe platforms for educators help situate good teaching practices with meaningful use of social media for combined academic success.
What are your experiences with using social media for learning and teaching?
If you have feedback, insights, or suggestions to offer, join Kim Chua at this year’s EduTECH Asia 2016. Kim will be moderating a roundtable session on “How to create a connected classroom that does not distract from 21st century learning outcomes in higher education”.
It’s going to be two days of exciting content, so make sure you are a part of it! Why not secure one of our last few remaining group-of-3 packages and save over 40%? Click here to select your group rate.
See you there!