Applications of Social Media use in Education.

This blog is 2 of 19 in a series on how to implement an Enterprise 2.0 framework  for  schools.

Social Media in Schools – Tag Cloud (What’s a tag cloud?)

1. INTRODUCTION

Social media amongst educators is predominantly thought as being a waste time, a way in which students collect information that has little integrity, and a platform where students are exposed to unsavoury and dangerous activities. These perceived dangers and risks, and how to overcome these perceptions, will be discussed in the next coming blogs. Social media, however, can be used to add value to schools and the educational outcomes of students. The following blog contains discussion on the potential uses of Social Media in Schools. This blog contains six main sections, corresponding to the six potential areas of Social Media use in schools including: increased communication, student engagement, organisational branding, personal branding, professional growth, and public relations. I will provide examples on how social media can be effectively used in each of these categories, within schools.

Figure 1.0 – Uses for Social Media in Schools (Source: Omni Publishing Company)

For a full list of potential benefits for any organsiation see the following article.

If you are interested in schools that utilise social media heavily try the following article on Why #Educators Should Use Social Media. High School Principal Eric Sheninger (@NMHS_Principal) explains in this article how he utilised social media, across the six categories mentioned in the preceding paragraph. This article gives you a brief ‘executive  summary’ of this topic. See my blog on specific Case Studies where schools are using Social Media also.

2. APPLICATIONS – IMPROVED COMMUNICATION

In this section I provide two benefits of communication rather than cite how communication itself is improved through the use of social media. How communication itself is improved through social media use is the topic of a previous blog i.e. (Social Capital, Provenance, Conversation, Peer Review, Information Filter, Accessibility to Wider Perspectives). There are obviously many more benefits of improved communication, but for the sake of brevity, I will only cite two.

2.1 Benefits of Improved Communication – Self Identity

The first benefit of Social Computing and improved communication cited in this blog is the creation of a sense of unity and belonging as a result of associations with multiple social groups. Often the dynamics within one’s school social group is not always positive. If a student belongs to a single social group where interaction is negative, one’s perception of the self is more likely to be influenced in a negative way. Using identity theory as basis for this argument; the more social groups that a student belongs, where they are making positive contributions, the more likely that the individual will develop a healthy positive self-identity. When a student belongs to multiple social groups the more likely they are to show resilience, when interaction in one of their social groups is negative. Access to online social groups, and the ability to have a positive contributions in these groups, are unlimited.

2.2 Benefits of Improved Communication – Increased Dialogue

Everybody’s knowledge on some topic has value. It’s just a question of audience. Within the right online community the user may feel more inclined to communicate and express their ideas. For example, some social networking sites, such as MySpace and Facebook offer users the ability to create sub-groups (or message boards) of people based on similar interests”.

There are many more examples of how social computing improves communication in the classroom. This link provides a detailed and comprehensive understanding of how improved communication between people can be obtained through the use of social media.

3. STUDENT ENGAGEMENT

Real life examples and links to their articles are quoted in this section.

By definition, self disclosure is sharing personal (and often private) information about  oneself to another. It is indicative of trust and acceptance and is often reciprocated. As noted in the reviewed literature, within the context of a face to face setting, instructor use of self disclosure has had positive outcomes on student learning (Anderson, Norton, & Nussbaum, 1981; Cayanus & Martin, 2004). The importance of social networking is seen in Woods and Ebersolefs (2003) article, which acknowledges the need to build a community to reduce perceived distance of online learning”.

The pedagogical potential of social networks has been recognised whereby they offer opportunities to share knowledge, ideas and individual and group activities (Dalsgaard n.d.) Advantages include access to information, and emotional and material support, an opportunity to get to know lecturers better (Hewitt and Forte 2006), more opportunities to develop personal relationship with peers (Mazer et el. 2007), and a greater disposition to self-disclosure (ibid.). The literature also points to the benefits of using social networks to solve coordination problems of groups (Cho, Lee, Stefanone & Gay 2005)”.

Students aren’t just writing on a piece of paper that gets handed to the teacher and maybe a smiley face or some comments get put on it,” he says. “Blogging was a way to get students into that mode where, ‘Hey, I’m writing this not just for an assignment, not just for a teacher, but my friend will see it and maybe even other people [will] stumble across it.’ So there’s power in that.”

I am not sure where this graph came from, I lost the original article and source that it came from. I apologise to the original author. Please blog me, if this is yours, and I will source it properly. Essentially the evidence of this article stated that with social computing, attention is class is likely to increase, rather than decrease with traditional methods of teaching.

Teachers can get to know their students while students get to know their teachers, creating a constructive communication learning experience on both ends of the hierarchy. When students can connect with their teacher, they are more likely to be engaged in class because the majority of students say their logging-on habits depend on the teacher and class interest.

4. COLLABORATION

See my blog on the elements of collaboration. There are literally hundreds of articles that advocate the benefits of collaboration. Three articles related to schools can be found below.

The power of social media in supporting collaboration and creativity

Google plus – the tool that schools have been waiting for

The Librarian Perspective

5. ORGANISATIONAL BRANDING

Increasing student enrolment using the social proof concept. What’s social proof? The principle behind social proof is that people assume others hold greater knowledge than they do. People follow others who are better informed.

6. PERSONAL BRANDING

While writing this blog, I decided to join LinkedIn. I previously did not have a lot of knowledge about this method of increasing personal branding. What a great tool! 8 permissive connections in my first day, with other similar professionals. LinkedIn even proactively matched me with potential jobs. Fantastic!

From a schools perspective, we are always trying to find Apprenticeships and Traineeships for our students. LinkedIn could be a way for students to establish relationships in the field they wish to find the apprenticeship in.

7. PROFESSIONAL GROWTH

This section applies to teachers. There are many ways that teachers can grow as a result of social media. In particular participating in discussions with your professional peers is a good start. Creating your own Personal Learning Networks PLN is essential to finding great ideas for your classroom.

8. PUBLIC RELATIONS

The following two articles provide some insight into ways that you can leverage social media to improve public relations.

Using Social Media to Listen “I found social media to be not only a great way to engage with people but a great way to listen carefully.”

Branding “Like the golden arches, when people hear my schools name they think of innovation.”

9. SUMMARY

Within this blog I have provided numerous ways that your school can benefit from social computing. These benefits were grouped into 6 categories. Over the next two blogs I will address the potential barriers to using social media in your school. Following this I will provide information that will allow you to create strategies in order to overcome these barriers.

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About whellmuth

Working with the education software industry to build software with standard arhitectures that allows schools to have extensible and well integrated technologies. Member of Software QLD. Member of Microsoft advisory board on cloud computing. My doctorate specialises in Software Architecture in the Education environment. My Master Research specialised in IT change management.
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One Response to Applications of Social Media use in Education.

  1. Hmm is anyone else experiencing problems with the images on this
    blog loading? I’m trying to find out if its a problem on my end or if it’s the blog.
    Any responses would be greatly appreciated.

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