What did you learn from your experience using social media and other open source tools?

What did you learn from your experience using social media and other open source tools? Should they be used for teaching and learning? Tell the story of what you learned

Social media has changed my approach to learning, both a student and as an educator. I can leverage social media to collaborate, research, publish, and extend learning beyond my local environment. Also, I am allowed to showcase a reflection to a wider audience and this motivates me to want to learn and share more. Self directed learning is empowering. The social element provided within social media environments allow for a more free flowing approach to communication (Taylor, King, & Nelson, 2012). The freedom of information via social media provides educational platforms to users and students across the world. This presents both advantages and disadvantages to learning.

In a recent study, Fewkes & McCabe (2012) surveyed students and found that majority of participants, 73%, believed Facebook could be used as an educational tool,  citing benefits to include collaboration, homework assistance, productivity, and easier communication. However, only 27% of students surveyed had a teacher include Facebook in a learning activity. This to me signifies the largest issue facing schools. Teachers have had little training on how to integrate technology and social media into instructional activities. The learning curve is rapidly changing, Instructors need to not only learn how to utilize social media tools to advance their own personal learning, and they now must also leverage social media tools to facilitate a deeper learning experience. This requires strong professional development, time and support.

It is important that a teacher be present online and involves students to become both producers and contributors within a social media environment. Ignoring social media doesn’t provide solutions and fails students. Teachers and schools must model 21st century skill sets to students. Educational programs should promote social media tools and demonstrate appropriate use to a wider community. How will students choose to utilize social media tools if they are not exposed to using tools to advance a quest for knowledge? Social media provides classrooms with an opportunity to increase cognitive presence, teacher presence, and social presence, providing a more meaningful learning experience.

In 2010, I was a participating in a Twitter educational  chat when I began corresponding with other educators about integration practices. From this experience, I was provided a link to a program in which my life significantly changed. Due to a  Twitter PLN, I found myself two months later working on a curriculum packages with top ed tech and science teachers. Our product was shared with the world using a variety of tools via Twitter, Facebook, Skype, and Google+. A direct result of me participating in a self directed Twitter edtech chat, led me towards coauthoring curriculum and sharing experiences to the entire world. As a result, I decided to attempt to earn a PhD in Learning Technologies and cognitive systems. In addition, students in rural Texas received funding and recognition. Twitter has significantly changed the playing field. There is now a living conversation that continues on topics I am passionate about. I get to collaborate with like minded professionals about real world problems and we seek solutions. I have learned that I am not alone. There are many teachers eager to change the world and make a difference. Many instructional technologists feel alone and pioneers in the field often do find themselves struggling to meet demands. It is difficult to be in the trenches, but the reward of  learning outcomes shared within a social environment is worth is great.

Hunter & Caraway (2014) illustrate the importance of participating in social networking, as tools are becoming a very popular place for 21st century youth to construct, articulate, and participate in their own reality. Young people are already involved in fundamental acts of teaching and learning and employ social media to do so. Hunter & Caraway (2014) conducted a study with 30 ELA ninth grade and 10th grade students in an urban area, using Twitter as a means to have students organize, facilitate, and disseminate topics related to literacy and literature. Students became more engaged, and participation increased. Students appreciated experiences and developed academic identities, which was previously missing.

Hashtags provide students with a voice. I attempted to give students this ability in a rural town in Texas. I will never forget the day our Tweets landed a local DFW reporter in our classroom. We led a national campaign to help our rural community gain attention. Students developed a campaign and for 3 months began creating content, videos, and utilizing social media to save a local business. Students utilized the TwitterMapApp and we could see our message spreading over the world. Students became very engaged and began to care about learning. We could see visually see on Twitter and on the map the power of an idea and were able to view a movement take place. This was a powerful event in which I had the privilege of facilitating.

I have learned that social media can be utilized to provide for a richer learning experience. It levels the playing field, provides students with the ability to construct new knowledge by giving students access to multiple perspectives. Reflections are very empowering, and it is important that K12 classrooms help students develop an academic identify online. I have learned that those who ignore this problem will find themselves still encountering issues associated with social media. Reimagning instructional approaches employing social media platforms are essential to producing a transformative 21st century learning environment.

Be a participant, producer, reader, and contributor. Model appropriate learning and share experiences. Social media platforms serve to help push our students to become academic contributors.

Hunter, J. D., & Caraway, H. J. (2014). Urban youth use twitter to transform learning and engagement. English Journal, 103(4), 76-82.

Fewkes, A. M., & McCabe, M. (2012). Facebook: Learning Tool or Distraction?. Journal Of Digital Learning In Teacher Education, 28(3), 92-98.

Taylor, R., Dr, King, F., Dr, & Nelson, G., Dr. (2012). Student learning through social media. Journal of Sociological Research, 3(2), 29-35.


About instructionaltechnologist101

Instructional Technologist 1 to 1, Avid change agent, Mac Enthusiastic, Implemented K12 1:1 program, managed offsite curriculum center in community museum, learner, PhD student in Educational Technology at University of North Texas. The future is now! www.why-steam.com

Posted on April 21, 2014, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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