Shaping the learning experience
The Pew Research Center reports that:
- 99.8 percent of college students have cell phones and
- 91 percent of adults (18–29) use cell phones to access social networking sites
These two statistics suggest that social networking through a cell phone can be an effective tool to support the learner's experience.
There are numerous options for incorporating social networking into your online courses.
Instagram is a free, mobile, online photo and video sharing social networking service. Users have the ability to share videos and photos through the Instagram website, email, or other social media websites. Students can download the Instagram app onto their phones and share information while they are involved in their daily activities. One possibility is to have students take pictures of how course concepts apply to the world around them. Marketing students could take pictures of effective marketing in the environment, or an education student could take pictures of an effective classroom setup. In this way sharing pictures of course content in real-world settings supports student reflection and application of course material.
YouTube is the largest and best-known video sharing site. Since the YouTube app allows students to view videos from their phones, faculty can use it to host mini-lectures. Students can watch one- to three-minute lecture segments as their schedules allow, such as during a work break or while eating, riding a bus, or walking on campus between classes. The ease of access and easily digestible size of content will allow students to rewatch lectures a number of times to get the point, which will help in retention.
Students access Facebook from their cell phones all day long. One way to keep students reflecting on course content throughout their day is to ask them to follow updates on course-relevant pages, such as those of politicians, businesses, news agencies, or organizations. Each update provides students with a real-world connection to the course content. Another option is to create a class Facebook page on which the instructor and students share videos, photos, and other content with the entire class. Students who see some application of course content in real life can snap a picture or create a video of it on the spot to post to Facebook rather than try to remember it for the next class meeting.
Yoono manages all of your social network accounts at once, such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Foursquare, GoogleBuzz, Yammer, and Flickr. Yoono also has a share feature that allows users to easily share content across various platforms and a group feature that allows groups to be created from any of the software platforms. The value of Yoono is that it allows you to organize content by category rather than by source. So students can pull together content from different social networks on a particular course subject and get into groups with other students to share that content. Ask students to draw together social media references to the topics covered in your course to demonstrate the real-life application of those topics.
Tweetcaster, unique from other Twitter apps, allows users to organize their Twitter stream into topics by making and monitoring tweets and retweets. Users can also post to Facebook and Twitter simultaneously. Through Tweetcaster, tweets can be streamed in real-time, be longer than the traditional 140 words, and be put into customized notifications to allow classmates to know when new content appears. Students can use Tweetcaster to watch for course-relevant Twitter content or post new content for students, thus again connecting the course to real life as they encounter applications of the material. By monitoring tweets from around the world, students will also gain a global view of current issues.
Technology is a powerful tool that can connect instructor and student in the learning experience. The fact that nearly 100 percent of college students have one common technology, the cell phone, presents an undeniable learning opportunity. Shaping course content so it can be accessible through a cell phone can also enhance students' learning experience by utilizing their preferred communication method.
Carter, D. (Feb. 2012). “Facebook Pages for College Classes? Students Say Yes, Please.” eCampus News.
Retrieved on Sept 12, 2016 from http://www.ecampusnews.com/technologies/facebook-pages-for-college-classes-students-say-yes-please/
Pew Research Center Internet, Science & Tech. Retrieved on September 14, 2016 from http://www.pewinternet.org/2011/07/19/college-students-and-technology/
Dr. Jillian R. Yarbrough is an instructor of human resource development at Texas Tech University.