Social media is the thing right now. It provides a way to connect people of similar (or dissimilar) interests from around the world. Social media also provides networking tools for professionals and even for job hunters. And it offers a platform for friends and family to keep up with each other.
But social media isn’t just for professionals, computer geeks and families who prefer not to send email; increasingly, social media is becoming a part of the classroom. It is possible to use social media in such a way as to enhance the learning environment, and to provide an education. Here are 13 case studies that show that social media does have a place in the classroom:
1. City University of New York: Newsgathering with Social Media
It isn’t surprising that social media is used in newsgathering. Indeed, it’s fairly clear that many journalists are finding use in social networks when it comes to locating sources, finding supplemental information and learning about items of interest. As a result, Jeff Jarvis, a professor at the City University of New York, is teaching a class on using social media for newsgathering.
This is a graduate level class in the Graduate School of Journalism that teaches students that they can use real-time searches to find breaking news — and to find comments on that breaking news. Examples of social media search used in the class include Twitter, FriendFeed, Scoopler and SearchMerge, a service that allows you to search, in real time, a number of sites. Practical, in-class demonstrations are helping the next generation of journalists learn how to make use of all the tools at their disposal.
2. Stanford University: Showcasing Faculty and Student Work on Facebook
Many universities are interested in sharing projects with the world — not to mention educating others in the school. To that end, Stanford University is providing access to faculty and student projects on its Facebook page. Students looking for inspiration for projects can see videos, pictures and other previously done projects.
Also, gathering this information into one place makes it a little bit easier to search for news and research being done at Stanford. The university has multiple pages, making it easy to locate information on the Green Library, hospital and a number of the colleges and departments. Stanford University also offers Facebook office hours, at which time faculty is available to answer questions on Facebook.
3. Vestavia Hills High Schol in Birmingham, Alabama: Twittering Lesson Plans
Chris Copeland is all about using Twitter to help his students. He has a Twitter profile (@ccopeland), and we Twitters lesson plans and notes, as well as answers questions. He teaches language arts in Birmingham, Alabama, helping students learn more about literature and how to love it. His tweets make it easier to keep up with what’s going on.
Additionally, Copeland points out that using Twitter to share lesson plans can help other teachers get good idea for their own lessons. And, it helps teachers keep things straight. It can also serve as a record of what has been happening in the classroom, which means that absent students can get an idea of what they are missing, and prepare for lessons when they return.
4. Northwestern University: “NewsMixer”
In a class with a practical application, students at the Medill School of Journalism created the “NewsMixer.” The idea was to pull local, national and global news from a variety of sources. There are places for users to connect, integration with Facebook, the opportunity to write letters and share quips. It is basically a social network created by the students. The Web site is pretty much dead right now, but the practical application of creating one’s own social network, right in the classroom, is definitely an inspiration.
Encouraging students to explore using technology, and use their own creativity to create their own social network, is a great, hands-on activity that can translate into the “real world,” teaching technology skills, and providing valuable marketing knowledge and offering insight into how social media works.
5. Stockholm University: Streaming Seminars
Sometimes, students can’t make it to seminars and other events. Broadcasting these events is a good way to help them reach a wider student audience. Stockholm University in Sweden provided a live streaming video of an environmental seminar that allowed students to watch remotely, or save and watch later. The university also used this technique for a seminar on file sharing.
It is easy to see that such a use has immense application in the classroom. It would be possible to watch presentations from other schools, and to “attend” lectures remotely. Additionally, it would be useful to students to be able to replay seminars and lectures to look for information they might have missed the first time around.
6. Orono Middle School, Long Lake, Minnesota: Tech Wiki
Orono Middle School has a great tech wiki that can be used by students and teachers alike. The tech wiki is a great place to ask questions, and find answers. It includes interactive tutorials on a number of subjects, as well as provides information for students.
Caitlin Cahill (@CCahillMN), one of the technology folks at Orono Middle School, suggested that it is possible to use Twitter in the classroom to help students learn about a certain subject. Students compete to find resources, and be the first to post to Twitter. It’s like a kind of scavenger hunt, and it teaches students research skills.
7. Duke University: Mobile Web Client
If you are looking to register for classes, check email or even access class notes posted up from professors, it is possible to do so with a mobile Web client. Duke University (as well as Georgia Tech and several other schools) is making it easier to complete a number of tasks using a cell phone. Enhanced learning from anywhere can take place using social media networks and Web clients.
8. Birmingham City University, Great Britain: Degree in Social Networking
If you want to be able to teach social networking like a pro, there is now a place you can turn to. Birmingham City University is offering a year-long Master’s degree in social networking. As you might imagine, course offerings include Facebook and Twitter, as well as other social networks such as Bebo. The idea is to help people learn how to use social media in a number of ways to benefit them, whether it is study skills or marketing skills.
9. Cardiff University, Wales: Tweprints
Looking for help finding peer-reviewed information for a science paper or project? Tweprints can help. Robert J. Simpson, a Ph.D. student at Cardiff University, began a project that puts twitter information about scientific papers in one place. It even includes the arXiv ID number, so it is easy to track down the papers themselves online. It is even possible to narrow your search by category (astrophysics, maths, condensed matter, etc.) This is a useful tool that students can use for a number of purposes.
10. University Laboratory High School, Illinois: Twittering Dante
Want to learn more about a great piece of literature? Steve Rayburn, a teacher at the University Laboratory High School, had his students consider Dante’s Divine Comedy. Students used Twitter to post updates from Dante to Beatrice for inside each of the nine circles of Hell. Not only did it require students to read the assignments, but it also got them excited about it — and thinking about what they would post.
11. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill: YouTube
You can put up your own YouTube channel, creating videos and providing ingormation. The University of North Carolina offers a number of helpful videos for students and faculty alike on its YouTube channel. Videos relating to health and medicine, business and information technology can supplement student learning, and be used as teaching aids in thse classroom.
12. Georgia Southern University: Blog for a Social Media Course
Barbara Nixon teaches a course titled “Making Connections: Facebook & Beyond,” which aims to teach communication and networking skills. Not only does the course teach one how to use social media, but it teaches the value of communication with others through online assignments using Twitter and Facebook, as well as other social media Web sites. Students are required to start a blog, and Nixon herself keeps a blog on the class assignments and answers questions through here Twitter account (@barbaranixon)
13. University of Wisconsin, Madison: CoveritLive
In order to facilitate more students listening to a lecture on journalism ethics at the University of Wisconsin, Katy Culver encouraged her students to use CoveritLive. This is a social media tool that can be embedded into a blog or Web site and then used to comment on proceedings, link to appropriate content, and even ask questions. This is a great way to provide distance learning for those who may not be physically present, and offer them a way to ask questions and get answers.