Social media can be a powerful platform for facilitating interaction, learning, and engagement. When designing edci335, one of the initial decisions involved selecting a social backchannel that could work for everyone. Knowing we had learners joining from all over the world, it had to be one accessible in most areas and not cost-prohibitive. We’ve used Slack previously as it was a platform we were using professionally for planning, it allows for file transfers, group and private messaging. Other edtech courses at UVic are switching to Mattermost as it is open-source and self-hosted.
Within a single class, we can find learners and instructors on several social platforms, engaging in a variety of conversations. We recognize that different platforms hold various merits and limitations. Many instructors in edci courses use Twitter, Instagram, and other media to share different aspects of our lives, engage in global conversations, and learn from people we wouldn’t have access to without interacting in these networks.
Using Social media is obviously a personal decision, and not one to be made lightly. There are countless concerns to be addressed in each platform, from privacy and tracking considerations, to ownership of what you create. For example, I know that the use of GSuite for Education (Google Apps) in my school district means that every document, course material, slide deck, or questionnaire that I create is owned by my district. Knowing what rights you sign away when using technology for learning is essential, especially for informing your learners about potential risks.
Why Use Social Media in Learning?
Inviting the world into your learning environment, and encouraging your learners to think globally and report out to the world extends the interactivity, communication, and connection beyond your initial design. If your learners are engaged in inquiry requiring them to access materials beyond your design, it will involve developing network literacies in order to navigate the volume of information available. The expert your learner needs may not be in the room in which they are learning. Badke (2009) states:
The ability to work well with information – to define a problem, understand the nature of the information available, use the best tools well to find the information needed and then enlist the information effectively and ethically to address the problem at hand – may well be the most important skill of the 21st century.
Creating content or sharing learning on social media provides the opportunity for learners to engage with an authentic audience for their studies. Reaching out to artists, athletes, and other voices provides perspectives and conversations that extend beyond the confines of the learning environment. There are many examples of excellence in collaborative global projects shared online with the intentional goal of shrinking distance and connecting learners. One such example is the Global Read Aloud – One Book to Connect the World organized by Pernille Ripp which has grown over the last decade to connect over one million kids annually. These projects strengthen network literacies and communication skills, while creating the sense of global community.
Social media plays a crucial role in social justice. The eyes of the world continue to be on the Black Lives Matter hashtag. Every day more voices are demanding change and action. Rallies and protests are continuing around the globe as people everywhere unite in taking action against oppression and racism. Social media tells the stories as history unfolds, without the wait for an “evening edition” or editor approval.
Teen girls organized Nashville’s largest protest. They’d never met before. https://t.co/9tAMT5j4HI
— Larry Ferlazzo (@Larryferlazzo) June 9, 2020
Apart from ownership rights and privacy concerns, social media can also create more problems than it solves. With one click sharing features and live streams, content can be created without considering potential consequences. Conscientious engagement on social media then becomes a critical task for the consumer. Reporting, blocking, and disengaging becomes par for the game.
For all of its “social” nature, engaging on social media can be an isolating experience. Posting to Twitter, Instagram, Tiktok, or other platforms can be a lonely experience even if you have a robust following. Many new users will want to have a voice or presence online but may not yet know how to engage mindfully.
Since content is so easily shared on social platforms, it can be rife with plagiarism, copyright violation, and bias. Learning to vet the material we encounter becomes another essential information management skill.
Another concern for edtech practitioners is the rampant use of social media or other technology without careful consideration of how the technology fits into the learning design. Sharing great learning experiences or ideas on social platforms can lead to one-off lessons patched together by instructors unless we engage in ongoing critical evaluation of the role technology plays in our learning environments. Kathy Schrock continues to update a Guide to Blooming Apps for learning designers to consider when thinking about how Bloom’s Taxonomy can be applied mindfully in edtech. I hesitate to share apps for learning without grounding the purpose in pedagogy. In this case, the way the apps (for iOS, GSuite, online, and Android) are linked to Bloom’s provides a reference point in their usage. The guide also shows how to align Bloom’s Taxonomy and the SAMR and TECH models.
It is powerful to see examples of both instructors and learners using social media for good. Knowing that we can contribute, curate, and respond to the amazing things being shared in social spaces can lead to remixing of ideas, connections and friendships forming, and new awarenesses.
While crafting the posts for the last topic on Designing for Interaction, we came across a crowd sourced page full of resources to support emergency remote learning. Crowd-sourced list of structures, strategies and tools shared by educators for k-12 “pandemic pedagogy” supports. As anti-racism conversations turned to action planning, our local #bcedchat Twitter participants crowd-sourced a list of anti-racism learning materials for educators.
Throughout social media you can find incredible instances where children have captured and shared their best work to inspire others and celebrate their own learning. Many 2020 grads did not experience the timeless tradition of a cap and gown ceremony. A 16 year old ukulele player captured this sentiment during the pandemic by writing an original song about it:
View this post on Instagram
one last hurrah – original song • based on real events. full version and lyrics on YouTube, link in bio. drop ur last hurrah boo⬇️ • uke: @amahiukulele uke strap: @enyamusicofficial mic: @neatmics • #classof2020 #2020 #grad #graduate #seniorclass #senior #ukulele #heyjenlookatme #original #originalsong #music #quarantine #carparade #coronavirus #coronavirus
As TikTok faces scrutiny for it’s security features, people continue to build amazing content. Take a moment to enjoy how people used the Duet feature captured in this thread:
This thread is evidence of the way TikTok’s duet feature can result in the most hilarious and creative collaborations.
Pretty much a guy wrote a musical number about a grocery store and everyone is adding onto it and I am deceased.
Part 1 pic.twitter.com/4z5Mqbscgp
— Emma Lynn (@emmaspacelynn) October 5, 2020
The potential for learning through social media is almost boundless. Crowd-sourcing ideas and sharing our best contributes to a sense of a global community.
Despite its complications, social media is filled with learning opportunities. As you guide your learners in its use you may ask what they want to learn, where will they look, and how will they vet what they find? As learners navigate between content consumption and creation, they may need support on analyzing what they are contributing, ownership of their materials, and how to find their audience. As designers you may need to assess the validity of the materials shared in social spaces, but you may also find an audience for your work.
Badke, William. (2009). Stepping beyond wikipedia. Educational leadership: journal of the Department of Supervision and Curriculum Development, N.E.A. 66. 54-58.