8 Reasons Why an Instructor Should Use Facebook and Twitter in a Course
Guest post authored by Renee Mandelbaum, adjunct faculty member at Harry S. Truman College in Chicago Once considered non-traditional, unconventional, and even trendy, social media has certainty infused itself into many different spaces in our institutions of higher education. Many colleges have developed sophisticated blogs to invite the next generation of college students to explore “a day in the life” (of one of their current students). There are also countless institutions putting out regular updates on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest to share news, and more importantly–curate content. As an instructor, navigating the social media kingdom can be a little overwhelming. Therefore, I have taken two of the major social media players, Facebook and Twitter, and used them to apply several different practices to my classroom instruction:
1. Communicate instantaneously with students. Creating a classroom Facebook page and Twitter account is a great method for staying connected with students. Many of them are constantly logged into Facebook (from their smart phones to their tablets and computers), so regardless of where they are, they are probably receiving the update.
2. Allow for enagement. Being social is an extension of your classroom. It’s important to encourage posting, sharing, and commenting.
3. Champion your students. Use social media to amplify student activity in and outside of the classroom. Broadcasting achievement and discussions provides reinforcement of your social platform and deepens student engagement.
4. Provide perspective and enhance your lesson. By sharing and “reweeting” other leaders, news sources, and credible research, you can further enrich your students’ learning environment.
5. Be a source of curation. Don’t feel pressured to continually produce content. For a different spin on the traditional classroom Facebook and Twitter practices, try incorporating the use of other professionals (outside the Academy, who are also Facebook and Twitter members). Ask these professionals to post unique content on the class Facebook and/or Twitter page. For example, I encourage my professional contacts to post articles or information that they feel may be relevant to students such as resume building tips or interviewing “do’s & don’ts”.
6. Allow students to choose to read and explore new content while simultaneously connecting to real-world professionals. If you ever bring a guest(s) speaker into the classroom, using Facebook or Twitter before and after the session can serve as a great introduction or follow-up between the speaker and the students.
7. Establish a “brand” for your online classroom space. Let students comment and post their ideas and feelings about a course topic or even something newsworthy. In fact, some students may actually feel more comfortable voicing their opinions in the “social media classroom” where they are comfortable with the “space” and don’t feel any additional pressure or judgment.
8. Increase classroom discussions. Discussions from Facebook and Twitter feeds that take place outside classroom time can easily find there way into the classroom and vice versa.
Keep in Mind
To ensure your use of social media in the classroom is successful and impactful, consider the following:
- Some students will not be comfortable with the technology or have active accounts. Therefore, I would hesitate to make anything related to social media in your classroom mandatory or “for a grade”.
- As an instructor, it is your responsibility to be an active user and participant with regard to content and as a discussion facilitator. Don’t always expect students to take the lead.
- Students posting or discussing using a social media medium will not necessarily be in a “scholarly” frame of mind. The social media classroom atmosphere is much more relaxed and attempting to change that may be disadvantageous.
Renee Mandelbaum is a full-time doctoral student working on a dissertation in higher education administration. As an adjunct faculty member at Harry S. Truman College in Chicago, Renee conducts classroom seminars for College Success Interdisciplinary Studies 101.