Social Media in Higher Education: Two Perspectives

Recently, Darcy and Chad attended a panel discussion on Social Media in Higher Education at McGraw-Hill as part of Social Media Week. We thought we’d bring our thoughts on bringing social media to your classroom via a dialog – a first for the CUarts blog. We each have different perspectives on the issue – Darcy as a student and Chad as an administrator – but we found a lot of common ground.

Darcy: We hear a lot about the differences between generations when it comes to social media technology. Young people are so accustomed to having an online life that it is second nature to share (sometimes too much) with friends, acquaintances, and the friendly void of cyberspace. While this tends to not come as easily to people who grew up before the iPod, there is one area in which social media can be beneficial to both generations: education.

Chad: Couldn’t agree more. Education, like social media, is a two-way street. Both require a high percentage of listening and responding in a way that takes multiple perspectives into account. You could be the teacher in one instant, and a student in the next.

Darcy: Exactly. Education and social media are both in the business of sharing information. One takes place online, in real time, available at the press of a button on a mobile device. The other demands much more time and focus and in return yields a greater depth of knowledge. The overarching question of this conference was how can you merge these two approaches into one educational experience.

Chad: Enter Twitter. At the panel, the moderator was taking questions for the panelists from the live twitter feed posted behind them. Admittedly, some of these were questions we were live tweeting ourselves from the audience, but I was thinking how one could use this application in a classroom. TAs could take questions from students in the classroom and other people contributing via a hashtag.

Darcy:  This could be especially valuable during exam time when everyone has late night or last-minute questions. Students can help each other, or have a TA check in and respond to the questions.

Chad: There’s also the Facebook fan page idea. Students are already accustomed to sharing their academics and personal life through this platform. You could create a fan page for your class and create tabs for sharing multimedia clips and online articles.

Darcy: And you could have a forum tab for class discussions or assignment reminders. Start a discussion thread around key topics or final exam review. There’s also flickr to aggregate photos! This would be especially good for a visual arts or architecture class. Post images of the works of art you discuss in class, and ask students to post their own. You can also search flickr for other users’ images and supplement what’s available in the book.

Education isn’t just about receiving information. It’s about absorbing that knowledge through engagement with the work and discussion. Social media can help continue the conversation outside the classroom in a way that is easily accessible and utilizing technology that students already use all the time.

Chad: Social media is also a way that students can drive the conversation. The classroom experience should allow for students who are the experts in a field to share that knowledge with others. If you’re well-versed in social media, use your next office hour with your professor to talk about germane ways in which you can incorporate social media into your classroom. Twitter and Facebook already exist, so that’s an easy place to start. The real dynamic adventures, however, are only an idea way and will come from this and further waves of students who are building the new interactive classroom – the millennial generation’s answer to the open-concept school. iPad, are you listening?


Chad Miller, Events and Outreach Manager and GS ’07
Darcy Zacharias, CC ’10

For a full transcript of the Twitter feed from the conference, please click here.

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2 Responses to Social Media in Higher Education: Two Perspectives

  1. Lindsay says:

    This is a great dialogue from two different perspectives. Is there any way we can be kept informed about these social media events?

  2. Pingback: SAGrader Blog » Weekly Round Up

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