Social media as an effective tool for learning

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Educators these days have got some incredibly helpful and effective learning tools right at their fingertips – and they may not even realize it, even as they’re using them. Social media has totally exploded in terms of use and popularity, with more and more people using it daily. Why not make the most of these platforms in order to create effective learning tools? After all, students, for the most part, will already be engaged and using these outlets, so it won’t take much training or even coaxing to get them to log on. Here are some of the most effective ways to turn social media into learning tools.

Create a class Facebook group

You may have already done this, as it’s probably the most common use of social media to engage with students. But, are you using it effectively? If students have joined in the group, but aren’t engaging in it, something’s got to change. Remember that most students will spend time on Facebook at home, and on their free time, so getting them to be a part of educational conversations is a way of keeping them interested in what they’re learning and being excited about it.

Remember that it doesn’t always have to be 100% educational. Have some fun with the page – ask your students a riddle related to the topic at hand, share a funny Science Cat meme or something else that will make them laugh. It’s an easy way to get their attention, perhaps get them talking a little bit and inject just a little bit of learning.

If students come across information that they think would be of value to others in the classroom, invite them to share links within the group. Giving extra credit for these sorts of things will definitely encourage students to get out there and do some searching.

When you want to get their heads back in the classroom topics, ask them a question that they’re able to think about and try to answer over the weekend, then have them come into class on Monday morning with their answers. Facebook can be an incredible resource if you use it properly because students are going to go there regardless and they are already well versed in how to navigate the platform.

Blog homework assignments

Invite a little healthy competition into the learning process by asking each student to submit assignments via blogging, instead of in print. Each student will be able to see what their peers have done, adding a little bit of competitiveness that will help push students forward. Team projects can be done in much the same way.

Educators should also have their own blog, where they can post topics for discussion that students are able to comment on and start a dialogue. This is also a great resource for students who missed a class to catch up on past lecture notes. If you need some ideas for engaging blog topics, the experts at UK Top Writers can help you generate a great list to draw from.

Twitter can be both fun and educational

Although Twitter is generally seen as a fun platform for interacting, that doesn’t necessarily make it a bad one to engage in learning. Create hashtags related to the topics you’re discussing and challenge students to find the most interesting information related to that topic, using the hashtag to label it. The added benefit of this type of research and learning is that students can see what they’re learning about in the classroom being applied in real life. So much learning is already being done online, at institutions such as Ashford, so why not draw on what they are already doing and add an online component to your in-person class time.

Pin great resources on Pinterest

Keeping your browser’s bookmarks organized can be challenging. Plus, you aren’t able to directly see all of the things your fellow students or teacher has bookmarked. Setting up a Pinterest page helps you keep those resources clearly organized and easy to find. Access them anywhere, from any device at any time. If your students are in need of some writing resources, State of Writing is a great place to start for information on all aspects of writing.

Pinterest is also filled with interesting resources and informational content. Just by searching for your topic, you’re likely going to find a number of things you wouldn’t have found elsewhere. Sharing your pinned boards with students is simple, and if you ask them to create their own boards, you can get a good idea of what they are most interested in.

If you know what you’re doing, you can definitely make great use out of these popular social media outlets, and turn them into wonderful tools for learning in and out of the classroom. Although you will need to invest a little more time into creating and keeping these tools updated, the returns you see will be well worth the work.

Rachel Summers

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