Learning with Social Media

Social media has become an integral part of everyday life in the 21st century. Talk to any college student and my bet is that they have a facebook, twitter, instagram, pinterest, or at the minimum, texting.

As a pre-teen, I remember the day my family finally got a computer—a huge, clunky, ugly tan thing that made the classic dial up noise and took fifteen minutes to log onto the Internet. It was exciting and new and being that perfect age, I soaked it all in. I still remember spending most of my childhood without a personal computer or a cell phone, and it always surprises me when I think that my siblings have never know life without them. I’m the awkward link between my parent’s generation and my younger siblings generation.

I’m not one of those people who talks a lot in class, I prefer to listen, taking things in like a sponge. So I was surprised and excited when one of my education professors decided to use twitter as a form of participation that would be added to our grades. We could tweet articles we found or interesting/funny things we saw online or something that stuck out in class, the possibilities were endless as long as they related to education. I found this platform of communication to be excellent. Not only could I talk about things we had gone over in class, I could take what we learned and expand on it. I was engaged in what we were learning. Our class had a hashtag so we could all see what our peers were posting and we could comment or reply and start conversations outside of the classroom. It brought everyone together and for a student who might have a bit of classroom anxiety, it was a way for me to assert myself in ways I was struggling to otherwise.

Many of my professors are incorporating social media into their classrooms, using it as a platform for projects, a way to keep the class updated and as a fun way to peak interest. A lot of professors are also communicating with their students via twitter. I follow many of my professors (and they follow me), and even ones I haven’t had yet! It is a fantastic way to build relationships and network as well as a place to have fun and be more relaxed than in a classroom. Twitter makes me feel like I’m part of a community and allows me to express myself in a less formal outlet. It is very important to have those types of connections, especially in college and it’s a wonderful way to get to know your professors.

As a pre-teen, I had no idea how much of an impact computers would have on my life and I never would have guessed. But I love the way teachers are capitalizing on social media and all the ways it can make teaching and learning a more interactive experience, both for teachers and students.

How has social media affected your learning career? Do you use twitter and facebook or instagram—do you have a favorite? Let me know in the comments!

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