Social Media as a tool for educators and students


Most college courses incorporate some form of social media into learning material (I have been known to go a little Social Media crazy), so most students are familiar with basic uses of the medium. Considering most students are already using such platforms as Facebook and YouTube, it only makes sense to utilize these tools for education. Students are using social media to view supplemental information pertaining to their courses via blogs, wikis, forums, YouTube and more. For example, Stanford Graduate School of Business has a YouTube channel that offers viewers lectures, interviews, and an insight into many of its graduate level courses. Similarly, blogs (such as this one) are introduced to students to offer additional resources for review in order to achieve an over all goal of comprehending course topics. Social offers various ways to present material. One of the most common and widely-used categorizations of the various types of learning styles is Fleming’s VARK model (sometimes VAK) which lists learners as:

1. visual learners: info-graphics, pictures, diagrams, video presentations.
2. auditory learners: lectures, discussions, podcasts, online videos.
3. kinesthetic learners or tactile learners: Physically “doing”.

Using social media can assist instructors in universities in catering to these needs.

Networking capabilities alone make the use of platforms such as LinkedIn and Twitter a must for university students. Social allows the users (students for the sake of this discussion) to not only forge relationships with others in their field of study, but it also enhances the educational experience. Platforms such as discussion boards, Facebook, and individual blogs help to foster a feeling of community for those taking online/distance education courses (as well as those taking courses on campus). For example, I have a Facebook group for my present and past students. Via the page, students can network with each other, I post employment opportunities and Marketing related materials, and the students do the same. Students from both universities (thousands of miles away from each other) are utilizing this page. In addition, I use Twitter in the same fashion. Further, all of my level one students (those taking class one of three) have personal blogs as a requirement of the course. They ‘follow’ each other via Twitter and their blogs and give support and critique when needed.

I believe there is less emphasis on social for employment searches, career advancement, and personal branding than I would like to see in undergraduate courses. For example, the use of a LinkedIn profile and the groups found within could be utilized for job searches, industry specific news, networking with those in your field, or perhaps following an organization you hope to work for. A personal blog can highlight a student portfolio, and a Twitter feed may further enhance the students’ brand. Personal branding through social can help a student position themselves for success. Every undergraduate student should be able to utilize social in the following ways:

1. Networking
2. Researching
3. Job Searching
4. Personal Branding

Social Media as introduced in graduate courses go beyond the above mentioned basic use of social media platforms. (See my last article). The series of courses is introduced with the first week centered around students learning about the evolution of social media and comparison of the various social media tools. Often students do not realize how often they are using social media because they have never actually defined social media beyond Facebook, MySpace, or Twitter. Similarly, they may have never considered the business uses for social media or their benefits to consumers and businesses. Always an interesting topic for discussion for the first week of this first course is the state of current business practices using social media. It is a great way to get the students realizing what social media marketing is, and what it is not.

I am always surprised that one or two students each term questions if they ‘have’ to get a Twitter account and create a blog for the course. The answer is yes. Anyone wanting to learn about social media needs to be “in” social. I always look forward to seeing my students create their blogs. They have addressed various topics and I truly love watching them get creative with the design, layout, topics, and promotion of the blogs. Many of them choose to keep the blog private for only the class and myself to view, and that is completely acceptable. My main concern is having the student experience the creation and maintenance of a blog and understand the role it has within business.

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photo credit: mkhmarketing via photopin cc

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