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Social Media

What is the "back story" on social media?

social media iconsA social network is an online community where people share information about themselves on their profile page, with the goal of connecting people to each other in the real and virtual world (e.g., friends, family, colleagues, or people who share common interests or activities).

Scan this extensive list of social networking websites. Their focus range from books (e.g., LibraryThing, CompletelyNovel.com) and music (e.g., Last.fm), to non-profit businesses and motherhood. They provide both services and community to individuals with shared interests.

Many tools referenced in other sections of the TOEP experience have underlying social media roots. For example, in Diigo (Social Bookmarking), you may choose to just bookmark your own resources, or you may choose to share your resources with individuals or groups. This applies to most of the tools categories on the site, from Photo Sharing to Blogs & Wikis.

Some popular social media sites are Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest.

Social Media in Teaching and Learning

Social media can help instructors reach beyond the classroom's brick and mortar - or even virtual - walls. Social media can enhance engagement, expand participation opportunities, and increase authenticity of learning experiences. As reported by eSchool News, Lesley Reily in an edWeb.net webinar stated that '...social media can help connect course participants to more people, invites input from experts, helps to increase and facilitate collaboration, facilitates sharing among participants across distance and time, and is more accessible on mobile devices...By integrating social media, you can connect those students to even more people in the whole world, who might share those same interests.'

Further, intentional embedding of social media "detective work" for course purposes may help extend students' use of tools beyond strictly non-academic purpose. Finally, for students who have embraced social media in their lives, factoring the tools into courses may have an additional positive 'ripple effect' of enhanced engagement.

The following are just a few examples the relevance of social media in instruction:
    • Using - and even combining - platforms may empower faculty and students to exchange and organize resources of all types. For instance, "Crowdsourcing" of resource identification invests student contribution to a course's knowledge base, while also giving them practice in honing their skills to screen for credible sources.

    • Decreasing dependency on the instructor - and increasing student leadership - is often an instructional goal. Embracing social media to expand students' PLNs (Personal Learning Networks) speaks to this commitment, especially when instructors can embed opportunities for students to infuse resources from potentially global contacts into course learning.

    • Twitter (and other tools) may be used to encourage and capture backchannel conversations inside and outside of face-to-face meetings. When using a custom hashtag, students, faculty, and others can follow, join discussions, and connect with course members and others. Following discipline- or interest-specific hashtags at times scheduled by these virtual "groups" makes "online conversing" a reality and can easily connect instructors and students to individuals who are exploring similar challenges and engaging in relevant innovation. 

      (Reprinted with permission from: K. Gradel, "Social Media...Call Me?" Presentation, Chautauqua County Reading Council, November, 2012.)
Check out these additional resources to get a sense of how educators are using social media: What faculty may wish to consider when exploring social media in courses
This section would not be complete without a discussion about interactions between instructors and students. When using social media for instructional purposes, instructors must make informed decisions about their use. When thinking about using social media faculty, should consider the following:
  • Is this the best alternative to accomplish the instructional task?
  • Is there another tool that would work, and potentially have additional positive effects?
  • Are students well-versed in this platform, and thus may benefit from learning another tool?
  • Are there privacy settings that allow users to "lock down" communication to various groups/individuals for various purposes? 
  • Are there costs associated with different levels of privacy and marketing?
  • Is the tool likely to be acceptable and used in communication/work after the student graduates?
Solutions reported in the popular literature include:
    • Using different identities, i.e., employing a user name/ID for personal use and a different identity more professional functions.
    • Using tools that do not require friending, etc., but instead involve sharing links to predetermined audiences.
    • Using tools that "mimic” social media functions for instructional purposes or products, e.g., Fake Tweet Builder or Fakebook.
The following resources may help you develop ways to use social media in your teaching. Although these resources address issues relating to Facebook, the principles are relevant to other social media tools. For instance, "following" on Twitter is like "friending" on Facebook. On Pinterest, until recently, all boards had 100% public visibility, until they created limited "secret" boards for users. Thus, access and identity are pervasive issues across tools.

Discovery Resources

social plateau continues
In social networks, people interact using built-in communication, tool-specific status updates, posts, chat, and instant messaging. Increasingly, social networks are being used by teachers and students. View this infographic that shows some demographics of the current state of social networks.

How does social media connect social networks?
Social media is made up of a large, diverse pool of cloud-based tools connecting social networks. Underlying each tool is the idea of community...the knowledge/information is yours AND it is influenced and capitalized on by others in the community. Virtually all of the tools require membership. What this means is that you typically cannot search the community’s information without joining. Some communities allow levels of sharing (e.g., FaceBook), whereas others have limited ways to restrict sharing to individuals or groups (e.g., Pinterest).

Classification of social media
Social media technologies take many different forms: magazines, Internet forums, weblogs, social blogs,microblogging, wikis, social networks, podcasts, photographs or pictures, video, rating, and social bookmarking.Kietzmann et al. present a Social Media Honeycomb that defines how these Social Media differ according to the extent to which they focus on some of all of seven functional building blocks: identity, conversations, sharing, presence, relationships, reputation, and groups. By applying a set of theories in the field of media research (social presence, media richness) and social processes (self-presentation, self-disclosure) Kaplan and Haenlein created a classification scheme in their Business Horizons (2010) article, with six different types of social media: collaborative projects (for example, Wikipedia), blogs and microblogs (for example, Twitter), content communities (for example, YouTube), social networking sites (for example, Facebook), virtual game worlds (e.g., World of Warcraft), and virtual social worlds (e.g., Second Life). Technologies include: blogs, picture-sharing, vlogs, wall-postings, email, instant messaging, music-sharing, crowdsourcing, and voice over IP, to name a few. Many of these social media services can be integrated via social network aggregation platforms. Social media network websites include sites like Flickr, Facebook, Twitter, Bebo, and MySpace. (Source: Wikipedia)

For more information, use this link to go to the Social Media section of the TOEP Resource Library.

Discovery Exercise

The following exercise is designed to make the most  of your introductory experience with social media. Follow these steps:
  1. Select one of the social network communities listed below. Choose the tool that is most suited to your interests, and which has potential suitability for your courses. We are asking you to choose from a small set of tools (Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest), selecting a tool with which you are not yet familiar. NOTE: If you are already comfortable with all three, choose a tool from this list of social networking websites.
  2. Once you determine which of the social networking communities you would like to join, sign up for an account, create your profile, and complete the steps below that are specific to the tool. Each tool guides you to introductory activities, as well as exploration strategies.
  3. After you explore, create a post documenting your experience. How could you use this tool for your own research or in the courses that you teach? 
Follow these sub-steps to guide your exploration about the social media network you selected. Then return to the steps above, to ensure that you have “capped” off your experience by posting a reflection in the TOEP Community.

If you choose Facebook 
Facebook is a social utility that connects people with friends and others who work, study, and live around them. Facebook is one of the most popular social networking communities. To become familiar with Facebook in education, please explore one or more of the following resources:
      1. Log in and explore the user interface.
      2. Set up your profile; ensure that you carefully review privacy settings, to match your preferences.
      3. Find and invite friends, colleagues, and discipline-specific contacts and organizations.
      4. Post a status update.
      5. Exchange messages (private and public).
      6. Upload photos, photo albums, or anything else that you feel is important.

If you choose Twitter 
Twitter is often used to follow friends, experts, celebrities, groups, and breaking news. Posts made to this social networking utility are referred to as "Tweets." To get introduced, choose one or more of the following to explore:
      1. The Five-Minute Film Festival: Twitter in Education has a series of short videos with lots of good info about how to best use Twitter in education.
      2. Sign up for an account,
      3. Familiarize yourself with Twitter and observe how others are using it.
      4. Post a status.
      5. Find some friends/colleagues to follow.
      6. Find famous people - or people in your discipline/field - to follow.
      7. Send a direct message

If you choose Pinterest 
Pinterest is a content sharing service that allows members to "pin" images, videos, websites, and other objects to their pinboard. To get acquainted, explore either or both of the following resources:
      1. Sign up for an account.
      2. Log in and begin explore, to get a general overview of what Pinterest does. 
      3. Create a board on Pinterest.
      4. Pin an item to your board.
      5. Re-pin an item to your board.
      6. Comment on a pin.
      7. Mention a pin to another Pinterest user.

Now, Request Your Badge!

Complete the badge request form to earn your TOEP Social Media Badge. You will need the URL for the item you created using one of the social media tools in this Discovery Exercise. If you selected a tool that does not result in a publicly accessible URL, include a link to your post in the TOEP Community instead. (Note: Review this tutorial to learn how to copy the URL link  for your post in the TOEP Google+ Community. You will need to paste this URL link into the badge request form as evidence of completing this Discovery Exercise.)

What Does the Research Say?

Dabbagh, N., & Kitsantas, A. (2012). Personal learning environments, social media, and self-regulated learning: A natural formula for connecting formal and informal learning. Internet & Higher Education, 15(1), 3-8. 

Ghosh, K., Chawla, S., & Mallott, K. (2012). Use of social media by U.S. Colleges: Potential and pitfalls. Journal of Higher Education Theory & Practice, 12(2), 105-118.

Johnson, J., & Maddox, J. (2012). Use of social media in graduate education: An exploratory review for breaking mew ground. Journal of Higher Education Theory & Practice, 12(3), 87-93.

Joosten, T. (2012). Social Media for Educators: Strategies and Best Practices. John Wiley & Sons.

Kaplan, A. M., & Haenlein, M. (2010). Users of the world, unite! The challenges and opportunities of Social Media. Business Horizons, 53(1), 59–68.

Kietzmann, J. H., Hermkens, K., McCarthy, I. P., & Silvestre, B. S. (2011). Social media? Get serious! Understanding the functional building blocks of social media. Business Horizons, 54(3), 241–251.

Kop, R. (2012). The unexpected connection: Serendipity and human mediation in networked learning. Journal of Educational Technology & Society, 15(2), 2-11.

Leece, R., & Campbell, E. (2011). Engaging students through social media. Journal of the Australian & New Zealand Student Services Association, 38,10-14. 

McLoughlin, C., & Lee, M. J. (2007, December). Social software and participatory learning: Pedagogical choices with technology affordances in the Web 2.0 era. In ICT: Providing choices for learners and learning. Proceedings ascilite Singapore 2007 (pp. 664-675).

Moran, M, Seaman, J, Tinti-Kane, H. (2012). Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts and Facebook: How Today’s Higher Education Faculty Use Social Media. Pearson Learning Solutions and Babson Survey Research Group.

Troutner, J. (2012). Cool tools, social media, and curriculum. Teacher Librarian, 39(4), 48-50. 

Additional research information is available in the Social Media  section of the TOEP Resource Library.

*Note: Access to the research articles may require logging into your campus' library system or you may request an article through Inter Library Loan (ILL).

Image Source: 
Mashable @ http://mashable.com/2012/08/02/social-network-data-infographic