Overview of Social Media

There are several definitions of social media, highlighting a variety of characteristics such as the promotion of user interconnectedness (Cormode & Krishnamurthy, 2008), creation, dissemination and consumption of knowledge (Ricoy & Feliz, 2016) and the opportunity to develop relationships (Khan, 2013). In concrete terms, social media are web-based tools used to create and share content in a highly interactive way. Tools such as Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and Blogs achieve this interactivity by allowing creators and consumers to comment on, annotate and repurpose content, together or individually.

Why Use Social Media in Teaching?

One of the most important benefits of using technology in one’s teaching practice is increased student engagement. A study by the Online Learning Consortium found that technology, in general, increases engagement with course materials, with professors and fellow students (Online Learning Consortium, 2016).

Seaman and  Tinti-Kane (2013) also found that 78.9% of the time, digital communications and social media in particular had a positive impact on faculty-student communication. This demonstrates that social media can also be effectively used to simply enhance communication, and not necessarily as a tool to increase participation.

Moreover, due to the medium’s interactivity and to the multiple possibilities for co-creation, social media in educational environments can “yield new forms of inquiry, communication, collaboration, identity work, knowledge development” (Greenhow & Gleason, 2014).

It should be noted that social media can have both positive and negative impacts. Some of the factors influencing outcomes in the classroom include how well activities or assessments using social media are integrated into the teaching and course rationale, as well as how much is known about students and the steps necessary to educate them on social media use.

Key Questions
What would you like to achieve in teaching with social media?

  • List 1 or 2 social media tools you have considered using in your teaching.