The question to ask students these days is no longer "if" they are on social media sites but rather "which" ones. As web 2.0 become more commonplace and integral into the lives and daily activities of students, can instructors afford not to keep up with the trends in the social media world? Can they afford not to speak the "language" of web 2.0? In order to engage students in the classroom and enhance their learning, the answer is a flat "no."
Yet many instructors, who grew up in the non-web 2.0 era find it hard, if not intimidating, to effectively harness the power of web 2.0 in their teaching. Dian Schaffhauser, in Campus Technology, shares a list of foolproof and unintimidating methods for incorporating social media applications into the classroom from using Facebook and Twitter to blogs and remote videoconferencing. Methods that Schaffhauser claims are guaranteed to work for even the most squeamish instructor. What I found most useful about the guide is the list of free alternatives to otherwise expensive engagement tools like the clicker or other content management systems.
As listed in the article:
4 Itty-Bitty Content Tools
7 Lures to Hook Faculty into Training
5 Ploys for Going Viral
4 Simple Steps to Setting Up a Facebook Account for Teaching
5 Friendly Ways to Use Facebook in Your Teaching
6 Quick Responses-to-Faculty Questions<
1 FREE Alternative to Clickers
15 Twitter Tips
It is amazing how useful web 2.0 can be in increasing participation, collaboration, interaction and engagement. Instead of absorbing content passively, students can now share ideas and interact with one another. Though all the tips provided by Schaffhauser are useful depending, some sites and applications might work better than others depending on the instructor's goal and types of engagement. "6 quick responses-to-faculty questions" is incredibly useful for instructors who have a goal in mind but do not know which (free) sites to use.
For some instructors like Dr. Monica Rankin of the University of Texas at Dallas, who have been using Twitter in the classroom with much success, Schaffhauser's guide might come as old news. Dr. Rankin discovered that Twitter helped increase participation in the classroom because digital communication helps students overcome their shyness and fear of speaking in front of an audience. Other instructors who have incorporated Twitter in their teaching have also discovered that the benefits of Twitter go beyond the classroom. Prof David Parry at the University of Texas discovered that chatter during class spilled over into the students' free time outside of class. This means that Twitter, because it is a convenient platform (many can access it via their mobile phones), can help students remain engaged in the subject matter and conversation with fellow classmates well after class is no longer in session. For many instructors struggling to increase classroom participation and engagement beyond the classroom, Twitter might just be the answer.