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Social Media in the Classroom

Sharples, et.al. (2016) note that “social media can bring learning to life by summoning up different times, spaces, characters and possibilities. They can support creativity, collaboration, communication and sharing of resources.”

Within my classes, I have been working hard to create lessons that embrace modern technologies that the students can engage with and create meaningful learning. Some of these technologies include media creation tools such as video making software, and the use of social media platforms.

Due to some recent study, I have quickly realised that I have not been using social media to its full potential. Instead, the social media I have used has been in an administrative capacity and has only just touched the surface of its potential.

Firstly, I have used Facebook as a means of creating class groups where I can create online conversations and remind students of deadlines. In terms of creating benefits within the learning of my students, it is something that is very difficult to measure. I know that articles and information that have been posted on the site has received likes and the odd comment from students, but as a lot of the information is classified as extra reading, I am unsure if the students are actually reading them or just hitting the ‘like’ button to give the illusion of them working.

I know that some students make use of the extra readings, as references or allusions to them often appear in their writing or discussion, but for the most part, this evidence is anecdotal and I need to develop a better system of assessing student engagement in the readings. One possibility would be to include the tool EdPuzzle in my readings. EdPuzzle as a tool allows you to set questions and analyse who is engaging with the text and how successful their comprehension of that text is. Although EdPuzzle isn’t strictly a social media platform, when used within a Facebook group as a tool within a tool, it will give a much clearer indication of student learning than the Facebook platform alone.

Recording and editing a YouTube video for publication and peer critique.

One challenge that I initiated this term, and am still awaiting the final submission on, is a documentary styled video assessment on the First Crusade. The students have been working on this with the knowledge that it will be published on YouTube and shared amongst the class for comments. The class will then be encouraged to comment on each other’s videos, and provide feedback and advice. This discussion will also form a part of their assessment. In this way, I hope that YouTube will become a place where ‘meaningful dialogue’ (Bolstad, Gilbert, McDowall, Bull, Boyd, & Hipkins, 2012) can occur.

Ethically, there are a huge range of problems that are created with the use of social media. From my own standing, I must weigh up what students can see of me, and also how I interact with them to protect my own credibility (Mazer, Murphy, & Simonds, 2007). In this way, I have a separate Facebook account through which I interact with students. The student pages that I am linked to also have other teachers as members so that we can all read and see what is going on.

Students working on creating a documentary in class. Jesus’ ascension perhaps?

On YouTube, there are also questions around student visibility, parental consent, and harm from social media bullying. With the current class project, when the students upload their work, they will do so through my own teaching account that is operated in a safe mode that is undiscoverable on the YouTube search engine. In this way, only by sharing the link can people have access to the videos. I have also emailed all the parents asking their permission to have their students publish something online. Finally the students also have a choices, with camera shy students opting to work on the script writing and research part of the project while more extroverted students have chosen to be the public face of the video.

Going forward, I would like to be able to create links with similar classes around New Zealand and ultimately the world. In this way, the students could get feedback on their projects from a range of other students, and in the same way, provide advice to the learning peers elsewhere. This would contribute to a shared culture of learning and innovation that is without borders (Melhuish, 2013) and one, that I hope, will lead to a deeper and more fulfilling learning experience.

Bolstad, R., Gilbert, J., McDowall, S., Bull, A., Boyd, S., & Hipkins, R. (2012). Supporting future-oriented learning and teaching: A New Zealand perspective. Wellington, New Zealand: Ministry of Education (NZ). Retrieved from http://www.educationcounts.govt.nz/__data/assets/pdf_file/0003/109317/994_Future-oriented-07062012.pdf

Mazer, J. P., Murphy, R. E., & Simonds, C. J. (2007). I’ll see you on “Facebook”: The effects of computer-mediated teacher self-disclosure on student motivation, affective learning, and classroom climate. Communication Education, 56(1), 1-17.

Melhuish, K.(2013). Online social networking and its impact on New Zealand educators’ professional learning. Master Thesis. The University of Waikato. Retrieved on 05 May, 2015 from http://researchcommons.waikato.ac.nz/bitstream/handle/10289/8482/thesis.pdf?sequence=3&isAllowed=y

Sharples, M., de Roock , R., Ferguson, R., Gaved, M., Herodotou, C., Koh, E., Kukulska-Hulme, A., Looi,C-K, McAndrew, P., Rienties, B., Weller, M., Wong, L. H. (2016). Innovating Pedagogy 2016: Open University Innovation Report 5. Milton Keynes: The Open University. Retrieved from http://proxima.iet.open.ac.uk/public/innovating_pedagogy_2016.pdf