Social Media in the Classroom

After the previous two weeks readings, I’ve been thinking a lot about ways to use social media on a college campus and how we have been using it for this particular class.  I think our class is an extreme situation obviously, because our main focus is getting our hands dirty with the social networks and playing around with them and seeing what works for educational purposes.  With that in mind, it seems interesting how much more engaged the class seems on Facebook vs. Twitter.  Now, I could be missing some tweets, so my observations might be off, and I do receive notifications in several ways when someone posts to the Facebook group, so this is not a sound study.  Since we’re reaching the end of the semester (!), I thought it’d be fun to see what people liked and didn’t like about Facebook and Twitter.

Facebook is comfortable and it can be easier to follow the discussion of a topic.  For example, when someone shares an interesting article, a brief synopsis and usually a picture accompanies the post.  The poster can also share a comment or more about the article.  Classmates can then comment below or like the article, and it is grouped all nice and neat.  If this were done via Twitter, it’d be a brief comment with a tiny url, if it wasn’t hashtagged for the class the other classmates might miss it, especially if we weren’t following the poster.  Discussions might be scattered between classmates and other twitter friends/followers.

In that scenario, I think there are some pros and cons.  First, on Facebook, it is a bit tidier and everything is in one place.  But, it’s locked down to whoever has access to that group, so we’re only getting a select groups opinions.  On Twitter, the conversation can be very open and we might get feedback from experts in the field or people who can help with our technology questions on how to use a certain site or feature.  There also might be too much “noise” and the comment gets lost entirely.

I thought the use of Twitter would have been more widely accepted by the class and even though I’m a huge Twitter fan, in this situation it was much easier to engage with my classmates on Facebook.  I wonder if it will be different as Twitter grows.  If students are accustomed to getting their general news and connecting with friends in that way, perhaps they will feel more comfortable using Twitter for class work.  I’m glad the Facebook group worked out so well.  It was fun and useful and something I will share with my colleagues.

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About sheli223

My name is Sheli McHugh. I'm a librarian at the University of Scranton in Scranton, Pa. I enjoy coffee, reading, watching movies and skiing.