Educating Educators with Social Media: Volume 1

Cover of Educating Educators with Social Media
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Table of contents

(26 chapters)
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This volume is aimed at instructors in schools of education and those who support them. It is meant to be a window by which the decisions, experiences, and evaluations of your colleagues’ use of social media in teaching can be examined. Rather than a recipe book with specific steps, it is meant to be a sauna that gets your creative juices flowing. Social media are used by people of all ages in the second decade of the 21st century, so having your learners get involved in using Facebook events for service learning projects in your town can be applicable for when they move onto teaching learners at other levels.

Social networking tools, like Twitter, are beginning to demonstrate their potential as powerful communication and collaboration tools in social, political, and educational arenas. As smart phones and mobile computing devices become less expensive and more powerful, they will also become more pervasive. As a matter of economics, institutions will need to adapt to learning experiences that can occur in a wide range of contexts and over multiple channels. Having more technologically adept learners will also compel educators to develop innovative ways to promote students’ active learning and equitable participation in class discussions. Given the increased popularity and exponential growth of Twitter, educators have begun to experiment with it to determine its potential for communication and collaboration, both in and out of the classroom. Through a brief description and history of microblogging and the emergence of Twitter, examples of how instructors are integrating microblogs into their courses, and an overview of a social networking cooperative project case study, this chapter tells the story of how the authors’ use of microblogs evolved from purely recreational to authentic instructional uses for their online classes.

Facebook has become an essential part of student life for most college students; it serves not only as a primary tool of communication but also electronic socialization (Golder, Wilkinson, & Huberman, 2007). Indeed, the vast majority of college students have a Facebook account and are spending a considerable amount of time logged in (Salaway, Caruso, & Nelson, 2008). Yet, can this predominately social space also become a place for learning? To date, the reactions of using social network sites for educational purposes are mixed and empirical research is limited. Issues relating to privacy and safety and an erosion of professional boundaries are the primary reasons cited to not employ social network sites in a classroom. However, other researchers have supported the notion of using social network sites in education (Greenhow & Robelia, 2009a, 2009b; Tynes, B. M. (2007). Internet safety gone wild?: Sacrificing the Educational and Psychosocial benefits of online social environments. Journal of Adolescent Research, 22(6), 575–584. Available at http://jar.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/22/6/575. Retrieved on March 25, 2010; Muñoz, C. L., & Towner, T. (2010). Social networks: Facebook's role in the advertising classroom. Journal of Advertising Education, 14(1), 20–27). This chapter serves to further this discussion by sharing the findings from surveys of instructors and students regarding their attitudes toward Facebook. Specifically, we report how each use Facebook both socially and professionally. Most important, we discuss instructors and students' perceptions of Facebook as an informal and formal teaching tool, particularly its effectiveness as an instructional or course tool, communication device, and in assisting students in their education and learning. Drawing on the survey and experiences using Facebook in multiple classroom settings, we pose specific suggestions on how instructors should use Facebook. In conclusion, the chapter supports the thesis that Facebook and education can indeed be connected.

Higher education institutions (HEIs) in developed countries have started using social media for the provision of quality education and the production of valuable research; however, the picture is not very bright in case of many developing countries. Web 2.0 services and applications like social and professional networking systems, wikis, and blogs can facilitate in fostering discussion, improving online interaction, and enhancing collaboration among stakeholders of HEIs in developing countries. This process can lead toward resolving quality issues in the higher education sector of developing countries. Information Technology Alteration – Design and Management – Framework proposes that if intercultural variations of values exist between the technology producing country and technology consuming country then, Information and communication technology systems – for example, Web 2.0 systems-should be customized, redesigned, and altered in cross-cultural implementations.

With the majority of the educated younger generations increasingly connected and forming online communities, formal education finds itself competing for their attention. Not only that, but online activities have a profound effect on student learning behaviors and capabilities. The importance of engaging students in new and emerging technologies in education cannot be overemphasized because it is, in essence, a worthwhile investment into their futures. Technology creates a more engaging and innovative classroom experience that makes students more interested in the learning process if the correct tools are used.

Social media tools give students the ability to think critically and creatively. More significantly, they allow student engagement with their teachers and more effective and engaging collaboration with their peers, and perhaps even outreach across cultural divides.

This chapter discusses the benefits of using social media for both students and teachers as well as some of the drawbacks and obstacles. The chapter also presents several examples of using social media in the classroom.

Social media – and how to use it within online educational environments – has become an immediate challenge for today's educator. Deciding on the right social media tool to adopt and its purposes in the classroom are decisions that must be approached with great care and reflection. This chapter provides examples of how social media tools are being used within the Master of Distance Education and E-learning (MDE) program at the University of Maryland University College to create and sustain an ecosystem of lifelong learning, student support, reflection, and practical research within the MDE.

The networked class

Pages 135-152
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Social media have been a powerful source of social and cultural change in the past few years, reframing the ways in which we communicate, interact with information, and build knowledge. In a higher education context, they have had a significant impact in breaking down the walls of traditional classrooms and closed online environments (LMSs). By combining formal and informal contexts and interactions, and enabling the dialog with wider audiences, they bring affordances such as transparency, real-life communication, meaningful tasks, and conversations, which result in a stronger engagement on the part of the students and a better, more diversified learning experience.

In this chapter, I describe the ways in which social media were used in an online master's degree on e-Learning Pedagogy, at Universidade Aberta, Portugal, in an effort to move toward the networked class. Tools and services used include Twitter, Facebook, Delicious and Diigo, blogs, wikis, and Second Life, among many others that students have been using to perform their tasks and publish their work.

Even if there are heavy transformations in technology, science, and society taking place in recent years, university courses often still emphasize head-on teaching methods with classic learning tools and resources. At the end of a course, students have then often acquired second hand knowledge, which is often detached from experience-based, constructive learning. The use of new media, the process of working in teams with application of these services, and problem-solving scenarios remain out of students’ grasp. In this contribution, we illustrate a participative and cooperative seminar setting between two German universities that tries to overcome those limitations. We describe the pedagogic design and the practical implementation of the course, list objectives and intentions and describe the organizational structure of the seminar.

The Teachers and Technology CONNECT website was created to connect K-12 teacher candidates with current classroom teachers. This website utilizes social media software and web 2.0 tools in a collaborative and supportive learning community. University teacher education students complete course activities using this website, including creating a video lesson plan. These videos are requested by participating classroom teachers and reflect best practices in using technology in the classroom. This successful project benefits both participating students and teachers, as well posted online for viewing by teachers around the world.

This chapter clarifies the role of the tutor in enabling collaborative learning through assessment using technology as part of a blended learning framework. This is achieved through a practical example of using Wikipedia and the Collaborative Learning through Assessment and Technology (CLAT) pedagogical model.

This chapter addresses the needs of ongoing educational reform and presents the merits of social bookmarking as a technology integration option for pre-service teachers. Delicious, a social bookmarking tool, was introduced as a Web 2.0 tool that assists in tracking websites that hold the potential to contribute toward the meaningful learning of students. Delicious and other social bookmarking tools give 24/7 access to tagged websites from any computer anywhere in the world as long as Internet access is available. Numerous emerging technologies are making their way into the classrooms. As such, K-12 schools and post-secondary institutions of higher learning bear the responsibility for preparing all students to successfully use them to compete in this global economy. During fall 2009 and spring 2010 semesters, the authors piloted use of Delicious in seven mandatory teacher education technology-based courses. Specific instructions were provided for selecting interactive, user-friendly websites with content that would complement lesson plan content and thereby contribute toward greater learning potential. A total of 106 graduate and undergraduate pre-service teachers located, standardized, and began sharing their tagged Delicious bookmarks as part of a major course project for integrating technology into a classroom. The websites were documented within full and abbreviated lesson plans that detailed the rationale for use of each technology resource/tool. Approximately 300 websites that met specifically defined criteria were located by the pre-service teachers who also benefited from the merits of collaboration and sharing through social bookmarking with Delicious. They simultaneously experienced how ready-access to quality technology resources/tools could positively impact the learning opportunities of their K-12 students. Access to the Delicious database collection is available by contacting the authors.

Social media and their changing nature present compelling public and private dilemmas for higher education. Instructional delivery faces obstacles to effectively reaching students who often prefer online communities and spend considerable recreational time using these social networking sites. CMS has limited appeal as an inviting space for students. An effective learning environment provides a communal place for student–professor interactions and an accessible and interactive space for collaboration and global knowledge distribution. This chapter focuses on some considerations educators should take into account as they manage courses through an increasingly socially mediated landscape.

Social media allows students and faculty to research and display information in innovative new ways. Research methods courses – when developed by faculty members and librarian/instructional technologists – can move beyond database navigation and PowerPoint presentations when incorporating social media. This chapter discusses two Information Literacy case studies, one for a junior seminar in the hard sciences and the second for a class on the history of African-American Mathematicians. The courses were developed at a private, four-year Historically Black College/University (HBCU) through a faculty/library collaboration. These classes used a variety of Web 2.0 and social media tools including Google Maps, Flickr, Delicious, Yahoo Pipes, Meebo, YouTube, iTunes U, and the Moodle Learning Management System. Each case study will define and describe how each tool was used and the collaboration between faculty and librarians/technologists to implement social media. Student and faculty assessment of the program as well as anecdotal evidence is discussed for each study and implementation tips are provided. These case studies provide the practitioner ways to create an interactive, collaborative learning experience for students and faculty while alleviating library anxiety.

Social annotation products make the thinking of learners transparent, visible, and easily accessible for sharing with others, self-reflection, and feedback. This is accomplished by enabling almost any number of users to have threaded discussions linked to selected sections of a page. Three professors share their experiences with the use of a social annotation product, HyLighter, to enhance teaching, learning, and assessment activities in three different areas of the college curriculum. One teaches screenplay writing. He describes how he used HyLighter to improve students' writing and critical review skills. A second teaches online graduate-level courses in pharmaceutical and forensic sciences. He describes the application of HyLighter to help students learn about chemical structures and related analytical principles. A third is a professor of educational psychology. She discusses her use of HyLighter to implement an alternative multiple-choice assessment approach in educational and developmental psychology courses. The chapter concludes with thoughts on the potential of social annotation technology to shift the focus of learning systems from content to be learned to what is going on inside the minds of learners.

Global Skills for College Completion (GSCC) offers transformative use of social media – a Guided Digital Environment – a unique set of online tools and processes to capture, consolidate, and advance the effective faculty classroom work. The ambition of GSCC is to achieve a quantum increase in the historically low pass rates of basic skills students in American community colleges. The goal is to produce a rate increase so dramatic, consistently 80%, that it is “visible to the naked eye.” This increased success rate in basic skills would have the effect of accelerating remediation and increasing the probability of college completion. We believe community college basic skills faculty possess all the wisdom necessary to figure out how to improve these rates, given the right tools. In this chapter we describe the GSCC project, the Guided Digital Environment and the Tools and Routines provided to faculty to allow them to be research-practitioners in the project, and the research we drew on to build it. We include early information and observations on the essential design elements for identifying effective basic skills pedagogy. We also describe the innovative technological tools used to create an engaged community and leave a digital trail for analysis. GSCC is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation through a grant to the League for Innovation as part of its goal to double the number of young adults in the United States with a postsecondary credential by 2020.

Previous research has demonstrated that students’ participation in class is an important factor in their learning; yet, significant barriers exist to all students’ participation during whole group discussions. These barriers include dynamics related to class size and available time as well as personal dimensions such as gender, age, and learning preferences. The emergence of new forms of social media can help break down those barriers by enabling collaborative construction of understanding. The present study examined whether the concurrent use of a shared learning document during class might provide a means of enhancing participation and learning. Because of the natural tendency of students’ attention to wander over time, the study examined whether providing a parallel learning and sharing space might serve to “focus distraction” in productive ways. During graduate and undergraduate courses in two different universities, the authors used a single Google document, open to every class member. Analysis of these collaborative documents and their use are described, along with student self-reports and videotapes. Data indicate that this approach created the type of participatory space we intended. Its use often broadened the numbers of students involved and increased the quality of spoken and virtual conversations as students negotiated meaning. When attention began to drift, the shared document created new opportunities for students to stay focused and explore course content through its use as an alternative back-channel. This approach also facilitated self-differentiation, as students determined which mix of available media best met their needs.

Today's students are powerful consumers and producers of media. Yet for all their access and use of media, many students need assistance from educators to develop critical media skills. These skills are necessary for participation in a culture increasingly characterized by the prevalence of the Internet and social web. However, despite significant changes in contemporary culture, the focus of media literacy remains much the same – meeting the challenge of accessing, analyzing, evaluating, and creating various media forms. Educators and students need to recognize that each has significant roles to play in developing a rigorous approach to media literacy. In embracing all forms of media as well as roles that extend beyond passive consumption, both educators and students are able to discover newly empowering skills that will provide best practice opportunities for better civic and educational engagement.

The advent of Web 2.0 technologies invites educators to fundamentally rethink the systems we choose to manage our courses. Although many scholars have examined the democratizing functions of online and hybrid learning (Hall, 1999; Kibby, 2006; McCormick, 2006) and offered case studies of successful social media integration (Dunlap & Lowenthal, 2009), a need exists to theorize about how faculty and students actually envision the changing role of learning technologies, particularly the LMS and now social media, in their everyday education. Grounded in critical pedagogy and building from a brief history of the learning management system and new media learning technologies, we examine which features have been most beneficial to the shared learning experience between faculty and students. Through this discussion we provide a working model of a re-imagined learning technology platform that integrates the best tools of the LMS with the more shared, democratizing features of social media in common use among today's students and faculty. We envision a shift from that of a management system to a dynamic platform built from the ground-up to integrate traditional course technologies such as grade books and testing, with the open, collaborative nature of social media. Toward this end, the chapter includes examples of combining Wordpress, Buddypress, and Twitter into a tri-fold approach that reaches beyond the physical classroom walls to build a community of learning where students are the educators via content creation and critical analysis of cultural institutions.

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Twitter is a simple tool allowing users to send 140 character messages to their followers. Although the tool itself is relatively simple, the benefits of using Twitter can be immense. Using Twitter educators and their students can tap into a global network of others interested in educational topics. Twitter is powerful in both range and immediacy. Students, faculty, and other university personnel including librarians are using Twitter to communicate both inside the classroom and beyond. This chapter includes how-to information for those who are new to Twitter, ways to use Twitter, tips on getting the most out of this tool, and a list of additional resources and tools which will magnify the positive effects of using Twitter.

About the authors

Pages 393-404
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Malik Aleem Ahmed is a Ph.D. candidate in the Values and Technology Department (Section of Philosophy) and Infrastructure Systems & Services Department (Section of Information and Communication) at Faculty of Technology, Policy, and Management at the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands. He has earned a masters degree in Business Administration with specialization in Information Technology Management from Pakistan. His areas of research interests are ICT and Ethics, ICT for Governance in developing countries. His Ph.D. research concerns the usage of ICT for better Governance in developing countries. The main emphasis of the research is on the public sector institutional strengthening with the help of ICT in the developing countries and the effect of intercultural variations of values. He has worked in different capacities in the field of Information and Communication Technology for seven years in Pakistan. His last job was in the capacity of “IT Advisor” for a USAID sponsored project (Pakistan Legislative Strengthening Project) in Pakistan. He has also been involved in the field of teaching at University level. He is also serving as the webmaster of this 3TU.Centre for Ethics and Technology website.

Subject index

Pages 405-407
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Cover of Educating Educators with Social Media
DOI
10.1108/S2044-9968(2011)1
Publication date
2011-01-13
Book series
Cutting-Edge Technologies in Higher Education
Editor
Series copyright holder
Emerald Publishing Limited
ISBN
978-0-85724-649-3
eISBN
978-0-85724-650-9
Book series ISSN
2044-9968