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3 Technologies for social communication

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Figure 4.6 Introduce social media into your online education.

As you saw in the Week 2 section that discussed backchannels, social media can have an important role in online education. A variety of social media tools can be employed in online teaching and learning, each with its own advantages and drawbacks.

A phased approach to the use of social media tools in online education is often useful. Students may be very familiar with social media without knowing how to use it to support their learning. Twitter and YouTube can both be used to great effect in demonstrating how public commenting can easily move away from ‘constructive’ feedback and in an unhealthy direction.

Skills in providing constructive feedback can be developed in a relatively closed environment. For example, students might be supported in their use of a discussion forum, commenting first on an educator-provided item, and later on each other’s contributions. When they know how to make constructive contributions, discussion can be moved to a more public arena (Jones & Gallen, 2016).

If you would like to read more about the positive and negative effects of using social media in teaching, an online search using the phrase ‘effects of social media on student engagement’ will point to a variety of literature on the subject. This shows that using social media appears to have a significant effect on student engagement, but – in some circumstances – it may have negative effects on student attainment.

For educators and those leading or supporting learning, social media can be a useful tool for connecting with others working in the field locally, regionally, nationally and worldwide.