Instructional uses of social networking software can provide opportunities for learning, connecting, and engagement.
This year, I've written frequently aboutÂ popular social media tools, and education-specific social networking apps, and social enterprise solutions. I've also noticed increasing coverage ofÂ this topic in the media recently. MaybeÂ it's just me paying more attention to it … or maybe itÂ signals an increasing acceptance of these types of tools as legitimate and effective resources for the classroom.
Social networking tools aren't going away any time soon, they appear to be here for the long term. But do these kinds of applications reallyÂ belong in the classroom? I think they do, and here are a few reasons why:
7 ways in whichÂ â€œsocial learning applicationsâ€ canÂ play anÂ impactfulÂ role in education:
Engagement: Using social media and networkingÂ tools obviously has a social aspect to it, and it requires proactive effort on the part of the user. In other words, using these tools to communicate and interact requires a student's active engagement. Socialization also provides opportunities for emotional engagement (this article from The ChronicleÂ discusses the importance of emotional engagement as part of the social learning process).
Social Learning:Â Banduraâ€™s Social Learning Theory posits that â€œpeople learn from one another, via observation, imitation, and modelingâ€. Of course, the type of socialization that occurs via â€œsocialâ€ computer tools is certainly different than face-to-face socialÂ interaction, but it stillÂ offersÂ opportunitiesÂ for social learning.
Use time outside of class better, so you can use in-class time better: Social learning tools also position instructors to deliver content outside of the classroom, and then â€œflipâ€ the classroom – working on what would have been homework during class sometimes. (And yes, this is the same idea I loved from Salman Khan's recent TED talk the other week).
It provides opportunities for writing and writing assessment: While tools like Twitter lend themselves to abbreviated “texting” style uses of language, there is no need for this in most other forums. Teachers can choose to include grading of writing quality as part of the rubrics they develop for grading social media based assignments and class work.
Encourage dialogue, reach more students: It's social! “Let's talk”! Sometimes anything that can draw out reluctant teens and pre-teens is a good thing when the goal is to communicate.Â One clear advantage of socializing across the Internet is that it is seen as less intimidating that face to faceÂ contact, and can allow shy students to express themselves more comfortably.
Help students get ahead of the professional curve: One of the fundamental goals of education is to position young people for enjoyable, successful careers. Social media isÂ becomingÂ more important toÂ business with each passing year. Many organizations have moved from justÂ discussingÂ “social media awareness” and “social marketing” to includingÂ actually social media business planning as part of their strategic planning efforts. An increasing number of professional positions desire or require social media awareness, and it seems likelyÂ thatÂ more positions will call for this skill in the future.
BuildÂ connections: Using social networking tools to deliver social learning experiences in the classroom provides opportunities toÂ meet other students and have access (depending on the tools being used) to other educators and professionals.Â Maintaining connectionsÂ and communicating with these new colleagues has never been easier, thanks toÂ these Internet based applications.
Of course, it's a pain that many of these tools are also blocked on school's networks (hopefullyÂ this list can help you make the case for unblocking some of these sites at your school!). I do also realize that these tools can be used in a distracting way, and expose kids to inappropriate content, so there must always be an appropriate level of guidance,Â selectionÂ of tools,Â and oversight.
If you're new to Social Learning, and areÂ thinking about learning some more about these tools (maybe over the summer, if you're a teacher who is off during those months), here's a set of posts that discuss the use ofÂ mass marketÂ toolsÂ Facebook and TwitterÂ in class work, as wellÂ variousÂ education-specific tools like Edmodo and Room21.
- Facebook in the Classroom. Seriously.
- Facebook Summit 2011, an Excellent Academic Use of the Popular Internet App
- 100 Ways to Teach With Twitter
- Inspiring Learning Outcomes with Twitter in the Kindergarten Classroom
- Social Learning With Social Networking Tools Designed Just For Education
- TakingITGlobal â€“ Social Learning With A Global Consciousness
If you're a regular reader (and I hope you are :)), you know we love to hear comments and insights from other readers, so please click here and let us know about your experiences with social media in the classroom, your questions, or any other reasons you thinkÂ social learning tools are a good idea!
Related Posts (if the above topic is of interest, you might want to check these out):
10 internet technologies that educators should be informed about
10 Free Educational Game Sites
Adaptive Learning, An Idea With Powerful Potential