For this blogpost I read an article regarding the use of social media in higher education, and give my response to it. My main takeaway from reading this and similar articles is that the best effect of social media in the classroom is to create active engagement.
But why is social media needed/useful to create classroom engagement? Social media is something students find relatable and as such can be an avenue to drive them towards being engaged. Their relative comfort with technology also makes it a good platform for engagement and active discussions. These things make it a great tool for creating an engaged classroom.
So what would this look like in practice? Exactly like this post! In this course (Preparing the Future Professoriate) the instructor requires a series of blogposts as well as a minimum number of comments/replies on other people’s blogposts. Blogging supplements our in-classroom discussions by allowing the students to go more in depth on some topic and have back and forth conversations with other students in the class. Similarly I have seen private Facebook groups being used for such in-depth discussions. In particular I have seen a Facebook group used to discuss our thoughts on the current reading assignments. The instructor would ask some question and the students would then start long and involved conversations around that question.
It is beneficial, from a pedagogical point of view, to have an engaged class where students actively participate in class and engage in active discussion both in and out of class. The comfort and familiarity that students have with social media makes it both a good way to ease students into being more engaged and a good platform for this engagement.