Embracing a Social Classroom

Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are undeniably powerful tools that connect people around the world. According to the Pew Research Center, the number of users on social networks has doubled since 2008. While these forums have established themselves as appealing social tools, strategic opportunities also exist for teachers to use them as educational tactics.

Many colleges and universities operate social media from an administrative level to reach out to current, former and future students. Kirtland Community College (KCC) in Rosscommon, Michigan, is one school that actively uses social media to alert followers of textbook buybacks, class cancelations, registration deadlines and to promote prize drawings. The school also streams graduation ceremonies for students or families who cannot attend.

“Students feel connected to the college even if they’re not out here,” Jennifer Sieszputowski, anatomy and physiology instructor at KCC said. “It seems most students are using social media, so it’s just another way to reach them on their level.”

Sieszputowski says her students connect on Facebook or Twitter to set up study forums, but she does not use mainstream social media methods as a classroom tool. She prefers KCC’s Learning Management System, an internal social media network for the college, to chat live with students, post classroom announcements and upload video lessons.

“If students aren’t understanding, it’s often easier for me to do a video than type it out, especially when people are visual learners, I’ll do that,” she said. “Then they can watch it over and over if they want to review before the final.”

For teachers who are considering social media, Sieszputowski offers this advice: “I would say give it a try. A lot of people think it sounds overwhelming, but it really isn’t that hard once you get started,” she said, “It’s just another way of connecting with your students.”

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