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Friday, November 21, 2014

Social Media Finds a Place in Higher Ed

While there’s not a lot of data about how social media impacts online education, it does appear professors are beginning to find uses for social media in the classroom. In fact, one survey showed that 41% of responding professors reported using social media in their teaching.

“We’ve had online learning for quite a long time—since the 1990s when it started to become popular—but the inclusion of social media is something that’s relatively new,” Michael Menchaca, an associate professor at the University of Hawaii, told U.S. News & World Report. “A lot of us are starting to use it more. I guess we’re still tinkering around and trying things.”

Among other uses, social media is seen as a way to communicate and share information with students. For instance, Menchaca requires his students to introduce themselves to the rest of the class with a 15-second Instagram video. He also uses Google Hangout for group meetings and Twitter for discussions.

On the other hand, instructors have discovered that there are so many social-media tools available that it can become difficult to manage them all. Because social media is open for anyone to see, there are also concerns that students could be discouraged from participating. Another worry is how faculty can be sure a student is actually the one posting an assignment.

“I think that as we all become more comfortable with using social media, it will generate more opportunities for students to network, communicate information with their professors and instructors, and eventually enrich and enhance the overall educational experience,” said Abbie Brown, a professor of instruction technology at East Carolina University, Greenville, NC.

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