The Controversy About Social Media In the Classroom

Whenever I do a workshop, I usually start by saying “I know that usually in a situation like this, the workshop leader asks you to turn off your cel phones. But I want to encourage to you leave them on and tweet throughout the presentation, if you like.”

Not very traditional. Learning theory says that the more students are distracted, the less they will learn, and social media is certainly distracting. It’s hard to imagine that students will be able to take information in and retain it when they are constantly checking on what their friends are up to on Facebook.

However, integrating social media into the classroom can also have positive effects.

At any and all of the conferences I’ve attended over the last few years, Tweeting has added to my experience. It has allowed me, for example, to share the knowledge that I was getting from the session with my Twitter followers. I have also been in the opposite situation, where I’ve been unable to attend an event, and have been able to “play along at home” via Twitter and a hashtag.

At a recent conference I was at, there were two sessions running concurrently, and I was able to, in essence, be in two places at once by attending one session and following along with the Tweets coming out of the other session.

In a recent Georgia Straight article, instructors and professors at post-secondary institutions shared how they are using social media in the classroom.

Dr. Raul Pacheco-Vega is a professor at UBC, and a friend of mine. He uses blogs, Twitter, and Facebook both to communicate with his students, and push their learning beyond the classroom walls. “In general,” says Raul, “I make extensive use of social media in the classroom, because I think it makes me way more reachable to my students.” Dr. Pacheco-Vega will be presenting on this topic at the upcoming Social Media Camp Victoria in June. You can also read this article about him in the Ubussey.

So. Social Media: a distraction or an enhancement in the classroom? Tune in on Friday for a really interesting infographic that looks at both sides.




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Rebecca Coleman

Social Media Marketing Strategist, Blogger, Author, Teacher, Trainer. Passionate foodie, mom to Michael, fueled by Americanos. I love my bike. Soon-to-be cookbook author. Localvore with a wanderlust.

Comments 6

  1. You would think that professors would be embracing social media as a learning tool. I personally have yet to see a prof who is okay with bringing twitter into the classroom. But I’m happy to know they’re out there, because I’m on twitter anyway and I would prefer it if they were okay with that.

  2. I’ve tried used Twitter in three classes now and find the students just don’t seem to get it. Only 2 students continued on Twitter after the class was over and neither of them are very active. I’m going to try again this Fall but would appreciate any tips that others have.

  3. Twitter is probably the easiest of all the social media tools to learn how to do, but likely the hardest to really “get.”
    A lot of people get started on Twitter because they feel like they need to jump on the bandwagon, but once they get on there, they get quickly overwhelmed by the noise.

    It’s something that takes some time and perseverance to get used to. I get my students to tweet on a daily basis for a week, hoping that it will get them in the habit…

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