Using social media for learning, teaching and research

Conole social media_final from Grainne Conole

 

I ran the second session of the Innovating Pedagogy seminar series today at Bath Spa. The focus was on using social media for learning, teaching and research. The session was broken down as follows:

  • The characteristics of new media
  • An activity on what participants’ digital network consisted of
  • Using social media for learning, teaching and research
  • The benefits and risks of social media
  • Types of social media tools
  • Case studies of how different institutions are using social media
  • The ways in which blogs, Twitter and facebook can be used.

We first discussed what the key characteristics of new technologies are and what are the implications for learning, teaching and research. We agreed that there was a lot out there and as such it could be somewhat daunting. Participants felt that there was a lot of trivia and superficial use of social media, and also that they could be time consuming and distracting.

I mentioned some of the research that has been done on learner experiences of using technologies. This suggests that learners are technologically immersed, however this does not mean that they have the necessary skills to make effective use of technologies for academic purposes. Today’s learners tend to be task-oriented, experiential, just in time, cumulative and social. They create their own personal learning environment, mixing institutional systems with cloud-based tools and services, and augmenting course materials with relevant free resources. With this respect Sharpe et al.’s book is worth reading (Sharpe and Beetham 2010) and also the outputs from the JISC’s learner experience programme.

Despite being quite old the ‘Educating the net generation’ by Oblinger and Oblinger is worth reading. I also mentioned the Educause surveys on learners’ use of technologiesAlso from Educause is the book on Game Changers, which looks at ways in which to harness the power of new media, how can we reach more learners, more effectively, and what is the impact of the increasing availability of free resources, tools and expertise? It argues that we need to rethink education as a result of digital technologies.

We then explored our digital networks and what tools we use on a regular basis, email, Skype, Powerpoint etc. were obviously mentioned. I said that facebook, Twitter, Slideshare and my blog were an important part of my network. We then discussed the ways in which we were using technologies for learning, teaching and research.

Learning

Teaching

Research

     Don’t use Minerva enough

     Email

     Google to find relevant resources

     Fb and Twitter

     Phone

     Multi-tasking across tools

     Phone at the centre of their learning

     YouTube and free resources

 

     Google, YouTube

     Minerva

     PowerPoint

     Guest speakers

     Skype for tutorials

     Students like videos, but keep under 10 minutes

 

         Google, Google Scholar

         Library

         Dragon voice activated software

         Skype

 

UCISA report defines social media as ‘the range of internet-based tools that allow people to create, co-create, share and interact with information’. The report lists the following as some of the benefits of social media:

 

  1. Students can communicate with their peers
  2. Researchers can be part of a global community
  3. Students can use to demonstrate their competences
  4. Universities can use to interact with a variety of audiences

And these as some of the risks:

 

  • Ethical, privacy and security issues
  • Time consuming
  • Inappropriate use
  • Ownership
  • Constantly changing

The report characterises social media into the following:

 

  • Social networking tools – e.g. facebook
  • Reflective tools – e.g. blogs and Twitter
  • Gaming tools and virtual worlds – e.g. SecondLife
  • Communication tools – e.g. WhatsApp
  • Consumer tools – e.g. price comparison sites

It then describes a range of case studies of how different institutions are using social media in the following ways:

Recruitment and transition to HE

  • Social searching for recruitment
  • Support prior to enrolment
  • Peer mentoring

Research

 

  • Part of a scholarly community
  • Development of a professional profile
  • Disseminating research
  • Resource discovery
  • Undertaking research

Employability

 

  • Social Media Knowledge Exchange
  • Development of a professional network

Public engagement

 

  • Dissemination to general public

Enhancing learning and teaching

 

  • Extending beyond the classroom
  • Peer review
  • Twitter as a back channel
  • Keeping in touch when on placement
  • Wikis to co-create knowledge

 

  • Keeping in touch with Alumni

I suggested that blogs were useful in the following ways:

 

  • Of the moment reflections
  • A digital archive
  • The power of peer review
  • Record of events, reviews and resources
  • Wider audience reach and hence profile
  • Link into facebook and Twitter
  • Complements traditional publication routes

It was an interesting session and we had a good discussion. I think the next session I will offer will focus on creating blogs and thinking about the different types of blog posts people can write. 

References

Sharpe, R. and H. Beetham (2010). Rethinking learning for the digital age: how learnes shape their own experiences. London, Routledge.

 

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