In today’s world where tablets and smartphones are available to practically every student in any classroom, access to all sorts of information is just seconds away. What’s more, college students are big consumers of social media content; available statistics put the percentage of college students that use social media when classes are ongoing at 64%.
While such a distraction can be frustrating, instead of putting up a fight against it - a fight you are likely to lose, anyway - you can leverage it to increase classroom engagement.
Indeed, for every five college students, four say that digital learning technologies have been instrumental in helping them improve their grades. This may be why an increasing number of these students say they would want to leverage mobile technologies in their learning more than it is presently possible.
Please note that incorporating social media into your overall process and curriculum doesn’t have to mean replacing interpersonal communications, projects, or lectures. Instead, take a broader look: see social networking platforms and other digital communication technologies as additional ways of complementing your other efforts.
Incorporating social media will allow your students to better communicate by leveraging platforms that they’ve embraced so deeply while also helping them learn how to better manage their image and identity online.
This approach to learning will prepare them for what comes next, including their professional workplaces. It will also have an immediate effect: boosting their confidence and creativity.
The following are seven guidelines and killer ideas that you can follow to better engage college students through social media platforms.
1. Keep It Simple
Now and then, new social media platforms begin making traction amongst teenagers and young adults. The latest has been TikTok, a platform that an increasing number of teachers and instructors are leveraging in the classroom.
While it is important to keep tabs on the new platforms and the learning opportunities that they bring, it is also important for you to choose to leverage a social media platform that is widely used by the students, and one that would be relatively easy to adopt in the classroom setup.
This will ensure that every student will be in a position to easily join the conversation. Your list of social networking platforms to consider, therefore, must include Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.
College students seldom consider social media polls a bother in the same way that they would any other poll. This means that it might be easier than you think to conduct polls on social media where you get feedback on your classes, curriculum, etc.
While you will find built-in polls on a platform like Facebook, you can also consider creating and running them manually. The polls can be as easy as a simple question like: “Which is your favorite book on this list?”
Twitter, on the other hand, offers a unique opportunity: the ability to use polls to collect feedback on the course in real-time. You can encourage students to add their input and have a notable say in the direction their education takes.
By creating Twitter polls and surveys about upcoming lecture topics, you can gather insights that will help you modify your content and delivery to all but guarantee better results in the future.
3. Create a Safe Virtual Learning Environment
For students wary of the fact that “the internet never forgets”, you can insulate them from the fear that everything they post online will be visible to the whole world by creating private social media groups.
The private groups will afford them the space to connect and communicate with each other in a way that might be impossible to do outside that safe space.
Some of the groups you could consider include private Facebook groups and LinkedIn groups. You could also opt for a Slack team. Any of these groups will allow your students to, among other things, share files and work with others in the team both remotely and in-person.
4. Provide Real-life Training
Choosing to use social media in your classroom provides you with the opportunity to help students improve their digital professionalism. You can leverage social networking to introduce them to the various ways that they can make the most of social media platforms to advance their careers.
Consider helping students create polished online identities and profiles that make them stand out. You can make sure that they are poised to succeed even before they graduate.
You could also consider getting the college students to attend educational seminars that relate to the course and while in attendance “live tweet” their experiences and insights for the rest of the class to see and engage.
5. Statistics or data
Social media platforms are an excellent space to share statistics and data in a way that is not overly boring or off-putting for students. You can design your messaging in a way that makes your students want to retweet and share certain course-related statistics and data with their fellow students.
6. Behind-the-scenes photos
Instead of frowning upon the fact that your students are accessing social media during class, you can embrace this truth by encouraging them to share their photos in the classroom with captions that encourage learning. The idea is to try and make these usually distracting social-class interjections as smooth and seamless as possible.
7. Give Students an Opportunity to Build Their Portfolio
Create a space on social media where your students can talk about their personal brands and express the different facets of their personalities. Encourage them to share their recent articles, videos, and presentations on their social media profiles, especially platforms like LinkedIn.
While it is true that most college students use social networking platforms in the classroom, finding ways to engage them on these platforms in a way that will be helpful with their coursework is not always easy. But you won’t know the opportunities that incorporating social media in the classroom can afford you until you try it.
And once you begin, make it a regular exercise. Don’t be surprised to realize - many posts, comments, and shares later - that social media has helped you build lasting and effective learning relationships with your students.
Author: Pamela Nguyen