Using Social Media to Support Online Teaching

Even if you haven’t been a social media maven in the past, the recent shift to online learning is pushing all of us to use social media to its fullest.  Social media can be a great resource to turn to to gather information and inspiration about online education. Here are some tips to help you use social media to support your online teaching!

Facebook groups are a great way to connect with educators and see how others have made the shift to online learning. Meeting other instructors who are enthusiastic about your subject matter can help you transition more seamlessly to online learning and see your course topic in a whole new light!  Some of these groups have covered topics as diverse as teaching studio art online, teaching theater online, and more. No matter your subject matter, you can find other educators sharing ideas on creatively switching their classes to brand new formats.

Are you tweeting yet?! If so, Twitter can be another great place to gather ideas from other educators and connect with instructors just as passionate about online learning as you are. Searching for popular online education hashtags such as #EdTech and #OnlineLearning is a useful way to find new educational technology suggestions and online learning ideas.

Lastly, you can connect to a vast repository of resources through the POD Network’s Google Group – a forum that instructional designers and online instructors use to discuss and share resources on a large variety of online learning topics. The POD Network is a great place to ask questions and collaborate with instructors who are curious about the same topics that you are!

Online Learning isn’t a challenge, it’s an opportunity! An opportunity to get innovative about your class, engage your students in new and creative ways, and forge connections with like-minded instructors across the world. Online learning reminds us that one of the most powerful aspects of online education, and the internet as a whole, is its ability to connect us – and your class can be a force in accomplishing this!

Reference herein to any specific commercial products, process, or service by trade name, trademark, manufacturer, or otherwise, does not constitute or imply an endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by Touro College.

Should We Incorporate Social Media Into Online Education?

The following is a guest post written by Emily Johnson, freelance blogger and content writer. If you would like to submit a guest post, please contact us.

Let’s be honest: online teaching and learning is not easy. Both instructors as well as students need to deal with a number of problems that arise from the limitations of virtual education. Thus, online instruction requires novel, creative methods, which would help students acquire new knowledge and make them feel less isolated.

Does social media have the power to improve virtual education? Can it solve most of the problems both online educators as well as online students strive to overcome each and every day? Would incorporating it into virtual teaching and learning make a difference? Keep on reading to find out.

The Challenges of Online Education and How Social Media Can Help To Overcome Them

Whether you’re a teacher who considers conducting online courses or a student who got enchanted by an idea of getting a degree online and wants to try, chances are that you think there’s nothing complicated about it:

  • As an online tutor, all you’ll have to do is to prepare materials, upload them on a site, and then, check the progress of your students and provide them with feedback.
  • As an online student, all you’ll have to do is download materials from a website, study them at home, and then, do the homework and upload it on a site.

That’s it, right? Unfortunately, in practice, it’s more complicated than that. Each step of the way only seems to be easy. In reality, problems arise. Problems, which can be hard to deal with and solve.

#1 Computer literacy.

Attending and creating an online course requires a person to develop new computer skills, and while professors may already have the knowledge on how to navigate the necessary systems and programs, many students don’t. Research shows that computer literacy of university graduates is low. Thus, we can assume that computer literacy of students who just begin their studies or are in the middle of them isn’t any better.

Now, to be able to fully participate in an online course, students need to learn to use LMS (i.e. Learning Management System), be able to operate such programs as MS Word or PowerPoint, and fix computer problems if they occur. Without any technological knowledge and skills, it can be a challenge too hard to deal with.

Also, although “Help Pages” and detailed FAQ sections may be of some help, finding the necessary information and following instruction can be time-consuming, problematic, and frustrating. Thus, here’s another idea:

To allow students to contact and chat with a computer expert via a social media platform. It’s fast and easy. Moreover, this way, students can quickly improve their computer skills and feel more supported in their studies.

#2 Communication problems and the lack of human contact.

Conducting as well as participating in an online course often results in communication problems and limits for both professors as well as students. Thus, exchanging thoughts, sharing ideas, asking questions, clarifying various issues, explaining the course material, or simply talking, may take some time and be difficult (especially if it can only happen in the LMS or via email). What’s more, distance learning means learning away from a campus and student dormitories, which can affect a person’s sense of belonging to a community of students and so, make them feel isolated.

Can we improve communication between online tutors and students, and help students make friendships, share their thoughts, and interact with their peers? Yes, we can. Social media is the answer.

By promoting the use of social media and creating special groups for students on such platforms as Facebook, we can help teachers contact their students (and vice versa) quickly from any device, and we provide students with a perfect place to talk to their peers, discuss problems, share various ideas or reviews, and form a community. In fact, in a recent study, 75% of students say they feel comfortable using social networking to discuss course work with other students and 58% use it to communicate with their classmates.

Now, since students find social media platforms useful for educational purposes as well as forming friendships, incorporating social media into online education can both improve communication between students and teachers, and make students feel less lonely.

#3 Boredom, self-motivation and time-management.

Although online courses work for a number of students, many fail an online class, especially at community colleges. Why? Well, in a study conducted in 2011, students provided a number of reasons why you may fail an online course, and so, drop out of college. Here are the causes:

  • Motivation (35%).
  • Study habits (17%).
  • Academic preparedness (12%).
  • External factors (11%).
  • Attitudes (11%).
  • Instruction (10%).
  • Relevancy issues (4%).

What also has a negative impact on online students is the fact that e-learning may sometimes feel like e-reading. Thus, online courses lack variety and can be simply boring. After all, not everyone find reading textbooks and other materials as the best way to learn. Some students acquire new knowledge by listening to lectures. Others prefer doing things in practice. There are also those who learn best by watching videos. So, variety in virtual education is a must to keep students engaged.

Now, since online students are not self-motivated to learn, find it hard to create and stick to their own learning schedules, and often get bored, is there anything we can do to help them? As a matter of fact, yes, there is. Social media gives us a possibility to solve a number of problems that online students face.

Here are several creative ideas on how educators can use social media platforms to support their students:

  • Create and post inspirational and motivational quotes on Facebook, and thus, help your students achieve their goals.
  • Send reminders about assignments and upcoming deadlines via online platforms.
  • Make competitions and contests (thus, you can encourage creative writing, help students improve their skills in a number of areas, and entertain them).
  • Instead of uploading another longish lecture on a website for your students to read, make a video lesson on YouTube.
  • Ask intriguing questions in posts and so, start an online discussion (let your students engage in a conversation with you as well as their peers).
  • Encourage your students to make posts or tweets on a given topic for extra credit.

As you can see, social media gives a number of possibilities to help students succeed in an online class.

Final Thoughts

There are many reasons why we should incorporate social media into online education. First of all, students are familiar with it, so they will have no problems with accessing materials on social media platforms or contacting their teachers. Also, social media platforms can help students to form and maintain interactions with others. Moreover, it allows online students to ask more questions and get answers fast.

For online teachers, social media gives a lot of new opportunities as well. Teachers can easily contact their students, have more possibilities to help them acquire new knowledge as well as engage them. Also, it’s much faster, easier, and convenient to give students feedback via a social media platform than an online system.

Thus, by incorporating social media into virtual education we’ve nothing to lose, and a lot to gain.

Author’s Bio: Emily Johnson is a college graduate who spends her free time writing thought-provoking blog posts about education, college life, blogging, and writing. Her articles that give career advice help and inspire people all over the Web. To find out more about Emily, check out her Twitter.

Reference herein to any specific commercial products, process, or service by trade name, trademark, manufacturer, or otherwise, does not constitute or imply an endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by Touro College.

5 Computer Habits Every Teacher Needs to Form Today

The following is a guest post written by Mitch Pazanski, art department head at MightySkins. If you would like to submit a guest post, please contact us.

As a higher education instructor in the information era, awareness of security and productivity is more valuable today than ever before. If you have a slew of poor computer habits, you could be wasting more time and energy than you think. To save yourself stress and improve your teaching experience, start nurturing these five essential computer habits.

Why is a Mindful Technology Routine Crucial for Teachers?

When it comes to your computer routine, you could be wasting hours and even days if you either don’t have a routine or are slacking. There are many technology tools and modern methods that can help you combat lost work, avoid excessive emails, communicate better with students, and stay on-task. Here’s what you, a teacher working in the digital age, can do to enhance your online working methods.

1 – Work in a Cloud

The days of computer crashes and lost documents can be considered a thing of the past if all computer users decide to board the cloud ship. Technology provides us with amazing web-hosted tools negating the need to weigh down your computer with excessive software and, in most cases, the need to save your work every few minutes. Working in the cloud can save a ton of time and stress.

2 – Use a Password Vault

How many different password-protected accounts do you have? According to Joseph Bernstein, a BuzzFeed news reporter, the average English-speaking adult has 27 separate online login accounts to remember. As a teacher you may have even more, considering the nature of your work. So, stop writing all of your login info in your day planner and start using a password vault. Leveraging a free browser add-on like LastPass can help create a secure, fast, simple, and more productive login experience across the web.

3 – Acquaint Yourself With Student-Preferred Communication Technologies

Depending on who your students are, there are a myriad of communication tools they are probably already using. Some prefer WhatsApp while others lean toward Google Hangouts. But regardless of which chat platform they are using, you can either meet students where they are, or use an app like Slack to combine all of your communication in a single dashboard. You can always request that students contact you by email, but you are likely to stay better connected if you get to know the platforms they are using.

4 – Limit Your Time on Social Media

Today, nobody is safe from the distraction of social media – not even educators. 30% of all time spent online is on social media. But, you don’t want this cutting into your classroom time. So, set limits for yourself. If you need help, there is software available to help with this particular issue. Try StayFocusd as a Chrome add-on to control your time spent on any specific website.

5 – Leverage Editing Tools

With changes in digital technology comes a shift in the way our brains process information. We, the 21st Century population, prefer bite-sized lessons and data presentations. At the same time, we are always in a rush. Avoid typos and grammar mistakes with software that can streamline the editing process. Grammarly and Hemingway are amazing, free tools intended to make sure you don’t accidentally present students with sloppy learning materials.

Final Thoughts

We used to think that it takes 21 days to form a habit, but this is a myth. It can actually take 66 days before something starts to feel normal to you. So, start making these changes today and watch higher productivity become part of your lifelong computer routine.

 

Author’s Bio:

Mitch Pazanski is the art department head at MightySkins, a vinyl skin company located in Florida. He helps design Asus Laptop skins, Lenovo Flex skins, gaming, and phone skins that are offered at MightySkins.

 

 

Reference herein to any specific commercial products, process, or service by trade name, trademark, manufacturer, or otherwise, does not constitute or imply an endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by Touro College.

Is your Classroom “Pinterest” Piqued?

Pinterest, the web-based social networking service that allows users to collect, store, and share images and information using “Pins” and “Boards”, is known for its use in the fashion, arts, and cooking industries. However, the app is not limited to personal and at-home use. Like any other social media, Pinterest could have a great impact on Higher Ed learning, both in and out of the classroom.

Whether using the app online or on an iPad or mobile device, Pinterest can allows students and teachers to collaborate on group projects, share both interesting and relevant course information, create new resources, save important links, and more!  This free application also allows users to make purchases directly from the site, or create and publish new content without using physical storage space. With quick, easy, and FREE access wherever there is internet access, Pinterest could be a great tool both in and out of the classroom.

Take a look at this great Infographic from WorldWideLearn.com for more information on the role that Pinterest plays in the classroom and how Professors and Students can use this great app to enhance their learning experiences.

 

Professors, Peers, and Pinterest
Courtesy of: WorldWideLearn.com

Social Media in the 2016 Presidential Election

Only 9 days left until Election Day! Wondering how each of the candidates got to this point? Check out these two great videos on technology in the 2016 Presidential Election and the effect of social media on the candidates’ campaigns.

 

Social Media’s Effects on the 2016 Presidential Election

 

 

The Rise of Technology in the 2016 Presidential Election

 

Sources:

Social Media’s Effects on the 2016 Presidential Election, from Bob Buckley, FOX8

The Rise of Technology in the 2016 Presidential Election, from The Washington Post

Making the Leap: 7 Tips for New Online Learners

28897238_s - Second Copy CroppedWill this semester be your first time taking an online course? While a syllabus should outline the technicalities and course navigation, the mental leap from traditional instruction to a virtual classroom can be daunting. Here are 7 suggestions to make the transition easier.

  1. Recognize that e-learning is different type of learning experience. Don’t compare it to a traditional course. Although it may seem strange, give the virtual learning methods a chance and explore a new pedagogical arena.
  1. Learn how you like. Enrich your learning experience by finding supplementary resources which you enjoy using. They could be familiar resources, like powerpoints and informative videos, or perhaps new tools like prezi or TED Talks.
  1. Share what you find with your classmates. If you liked it, chances are that they will too. You can create a larger and more united environment for your classmate community.
  1. Take advantage of the opportunity to learn. Don’t submit reading responses only in order to make the grade. Choose to make the most of the experience and continually appreciate learning new things.
  1. Team up with another first time e-learner. Whether or not you are taking the same course, it is a good idea to have a friend who can jointly relate to your position.
  1. Find a mentor who had a positive online learning experience. Look around – it is likely that a neighbor or a fellow student made this leap a little while ago. Ask for practical advice and do not scoff at comforting reassurance.
  1. Have fun! – Learning is great.

What helped you make the transition from a traditional student to an e-learner?

7 Ways to Use Twitter Hashtags for Online Learning and Studying

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Using hashtags on Twitter is a great way to collect tweets related to a particular topic. Here are 7 ways you can use hashtags to promote learning and studying in an online environment.

  1. Create a unique hashtag to collect all tweets from your class. Encourage students to tweet any questions they may have, and mark the tweets with your class’s unique hashtag. This can be especially helpful if students are reading the textbook on their own and have questions on the reading.
  2. If you use live videoconferecing, you can run polls or take live Q&A through Twitter.
  3. Join up with other classes who are learning the same course material, and start a discussion marked with a unique hashtag.
  4. Schedule a twitter chat for a discussion on a topic relevant to whatever your students are learning. Consider using Twubs or Twitter chat to host the chat.
  5. Schedule twitter chats for class review sessions before each test. Students can tweet questions to each other, and the professor can answer too.
  6. Create a real-time twitter wall with Twijector. Search for specific keywords or hashtags and watch as the wall fills with relevant tweets.
  7. Divide the class into group and assign each group a particular topic to research. Each group can then tweet their findings with a specific hashtag. Later they will be able to go back and read through all the tweets marked with that hashtag.

Have you tried any of these tips? How have you used twitter for online learning? Let us know!

A Teacher’s Guide to Social Media [INFOGRAPHIC]

Social media has become an indispensable part of 21st century life, and now educators are finding ways to use it for educational purposes as well.

The infographic below, created by OnlineColleges.net, suggests 25 ways to use social media for education, including:

  • Communicating with students and notifying them about assignment due dates and upcoming events
  • Allowing students to communicate with each other and with the teacher to ask questions and discuss course material
  • Incorporating videos and interactive presentations in courses
  • Posting supplementary materials to add interest to the course
  • Maintaining dynamic discussions among students
  • Discovering fresh ideas for lesson plans and projects
  • Keeping up with the latest trends in education by sharing and collaborating with other professionals
  • Enabling students to present their projects and assignments to fellow students and to the public

A Teacher’s Guide to Social Media