The Challenges of Using Social Media in Teaching
Last week, I was invited to speak in a panel discussion session about using social media in teaching for the Summer Institute for Technology-Enhanced Teaching and Learning (SITETL) at SU. I was asked: what challenges do I face when using social media in teaching? I think that is a great question.
Since 2009, I have developed and taught four different courses at SU. One is on social media and the other three are hospitality management courses. Students use many more social media tools in my social media class than in others. Also, depending on the subject matter, my expectations on how students use social media tools in class are different, but in general, I think there are two big challenges.
First and for most, professors can no longer stop acquiring new knowledge if they begin using social media in teaching (nobody should stop learning anyway, right?). I believe that in the age of information explosion, new technology and school of thoughts can emerge every day. Professors need to be on top of things --- they need to know how to use different social media tools effectively, and they must know what is going on in the real world by teaching beyond the textbook knowledge. For example, Google+ was new last year; Pinterest was up-and-coming in the spring. Before I discussed these tools in my social media class, I had to study these topics and learn how to use these tools myself. For my other hospitality management courses, I must read news articles and online forums every day so that I can discuss with my students about the upcoming trends both in class and online (i.e. in this blog). My point is if I expect my students to research the industry updates and speak intelligently about the trends under a particular domain, I must set a good example by doing that very well myself.
Second, professors need to be cognizant of their new role in classroom. In my opinions, professors are no longer the only “voice of authority” in class because there are students who adopt new technology and learn new information faster than professors. Accordingly, professors must open their minds, welcome/encourage inputs from students, and learn new knowledge with students. In today’s settings, professors should become the thought leader of the classes they teach. A thought leader is there to lead the learning process, provoke new thoughts, and facilitate discussion.
At the end of this session, I was asked what impact I would see in my teaching if one day all the popular social media tools like Twitter and Facebook went away. I believe that social media is here to stay even though what is popular today can be replaced by newer ones. And yes, the content I teach about how to use blogs, Twitter, and Facebook Page may become outdated soon, but I argue that the transferable skills that students have learned in my class will not fade. I hope that students can learn more than just the content I teach in class. My goals are: my students will understand how to research information, think independently, be capable of serving an online community as a thought leader, know how to effectively engage with audience online, be able to measure the effectiveness of their social media presence, and hopefully more.
Do you agree (or disagree)? Do you use any social media tools in teaching? What challenges do you face? What do you do to cope with those challenges?
The picture was downloaded from SmartBlogs.com.