Almost all college professors are on social media these days. Many use it simply to connect with other professionals in their field or to post information on themselves and their research. But using social media inside the classroom can be extremely effective. Increase productivity, communication, and understanding by using these six tips.
As a college professor, you probably know that many students are hesitant to come to your office hours. Whether they are intimidated of sitting in your office, or would rather only be on campus when forced to sit in class, office hours turn out to be a waste of your time if no students are showing up. One way to increase participation is to hold your office hours online, either in addition to your traditional office hours or at a completely different time. Simply create a Twitter hashtag to use during the office hours, or create a new discussion thread on Facebook each time. You’ll find that you’re increasing student engagement, plus leaving a publically visibly trail of answers that all students will be able to follow.
Traditionally, seeing a lecture hall full of students on their smart phones meant that they probably weren’t paying much attention to the lecture. But if you want to turn this non-stop cell phone usage into an effective lecture, require your students to live tweet the lecture. Creating what is essentially a compact, virtual transcript on Twitter will allow students to easily connect with each other and easily identify key points to the lecture. It will also allow you to see what points are sticking with your students, and what concepts you may need to reiterate.
Creating a Facebook page that your students can “Like” makes a one-stop information hub that allows for clear communication on a number of fronts. Use the page to constantly update assignments, create virtual discussion groups for students (that you can monitor) or simply to update students on any changes to the class. Encourage your students to interact by posting articles related to class content daily, and follow up by discussing these articles in class. There are plenty of Facebook applications designed to be used by professors to encourage productivity with Facebook, finding some that work with your class goals can help your students succeed.
No matter what kind of subject you are teaching, encouraging your students to network with professionals in the field is one of the best things you can do to help your students find employment after graduation. Think of creative ways to use social media to teach your students to network. Assign your students an assignment that requires them to identify and contact professionals on social media. Recommend to your students that they keep in contact with these individuals as it will likely increase the probably of them getting a job. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to find post-graduation employment without any sort of network, so requiring your students to be in constant contact with people in their field will pay off.
Requiring your students to blog a few times a week as an assignment is valuable to your students’ understanding of the material. You’re basically assigning mini essays, which will allow you to better gauge your students‘understanding of either the course as a whole, or on different individual subjects. Share unique posts that may offer interesting perspectives with the entire class. This will pay dividends for your students when they complete your course, as they will have published material online to show to potential employers. Many students will even continue to blog after the completion of the course.
In addition to social media sites like Facebook or Twitter, maintaining a presence on YouTube can be a key addition to any class you may teach. If you are constantly updating a YouTube playlist with new, informative videos that either you or your students find, you’ll see an increase in class discussion. You may even consider creating a YouTube channel and posting videos of your class lectures, which will help students review the material.
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Author Jessica Socheski is a self described newbie social media junkie who is also considering enrollment in a distance learning program from Western International University as part of her continuing education.