With the instant connectivity it offers, social media is a force to be reckoned with, writes Nicola Riding, who discusses how social media can impact teaching and training initiatives.
Social media and mobile technology have taken the concept of connectivity to another level in the modern age. For the majority of us, technology is essential in everyday life. Most of the people you know own a mobile phone and are present on at least one social media platform. And, nearly everyone you know reaches for their mobile phone to check their social media accounts at regular intervals throughout the day.
As early as the 1970s, and well before social media was introduced, several internet applications were in use by educators and students. These were used to correspond, make journal entries about various areas of study, and create online profiles. The internet has always been social, but access was limited to a privileged few.
The onset of platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and YouTube have opened the floodgates, with over a billion users communicating, exchanging ideas, creating content, and much more. As a result, the potential benefits for educators in using social media are endless.
The world becomes a classroom
Social media breaks down walls and builds bridges across oceans. Traditional teaching programs require students be present at a said classroom, but what does a trainer do when their student is based in Norway and the lecture is taking place in Australia?
Thanks to social technologies such as YouTube, Facebook Live, Instagram Stories and Twitter’s Periscope, teachers can educate students from across the globe, in real time. It takes away the impersonal element of asking them to simply watch a few training videos and do an assignment.
Improved two-way communication
Look back on your college days. Each time a lecturer asked a question, a handful of students offered answers - and it was usually the same few faces. The majority of the class did not take part due to reasons such as apprehension, fear of having the wrong answer, or simply not feeling comfortable enough to engage. A teacher using a social media channel such as Facebook Groups or Twitter allows students to feel at home, prompting more participation.
On social media, students are comfortable. It is a setting they have been used to and it is a platform where they feel connected. As a result, the teacher or trainer is able to better engage their students via two-way communication.
Lay the groundwork for potential employment
Over three-quarters of recruiters look at a candidate’s digital footprint prior to hiring, and plenty of candidates have been rejected due to not having a compelling enough social media presence.
By empowering students to use social media effectively for learning by creating content related to their coursework, updating their profiles on LinkedIn, writing white-papers, and more, educators can play a more significant role in in making their students more employable.
Showcasing great work
Every time you compliment one of your students on a job well done, it is confined to the classroom. It can be easily forgotten. Imagine you are conducting a creative writing class and one of the students submits a powerful piece. Thanks to social media, you can ask the student to publish it on a blog, and potentially reach out to millions of readers through social media.
In short, this piece of work could end up changing the student’s life for the better. Social media increases the chances of their work being seen by potential employers or literary agents. The snowball effect is that the other students of your class will be motivated by this and will strive to give their best work.
Social media empowers students to have a voice, engage with their classmates and colleagues, and interact freely with their teachers and other experts, thus setting the stage for teachers to do their work more effectively. Often, the biggest hurdles a teacher faces is engaging their class fully during their time together, and social media can help teachers overcome this issue.
As an educator, which challenges have you come across that could be overcome by using social media?
Nicola Riding works for Statuo in Horwich. She’s a graphic design and outreach specialist who writes for Inventry and lives in Manchester.