Social Media: An Educator's Secret Weapon

Blog / Social Media: An Educator's Secret Weapon
Being an education communicator is never easy—especially when faced with trying to engage today’s breed of technically savvy students. Many communicators are having a difficult time reaching out to constituents, students and alumni alike as larger portions of these groups turn to social media instead of the traditional media, still used by many institutions as their main form of communication. In this difficult environment innovative communicators are taking advantage of social media to reach their audience on a whole new level and are having measureable success.

So how do they do it? Take a look at how social media can be used in education to supplement your current communication strategies:

Twitter – A free micro-blogging site which allows users to enter 140 word or less posts known as “tweets” which are then published to the user’s profile page and are visible to their followers. Twitter is hugely popular and appears to only be growing.  A recent study done of students found that over 20% of students use Twitter, and of those, over 71% stated that they expect to increase twittering during the upcoming school year.

So how can you use twitter in education? Twitter is a great place to post pointers to online resources; school and class updates; and student reminders, and it also offers a way to get instant feedback about lectures, school related issues and news. Schools that have experimented with Twitter , have found that is has been an excellent way for students, faculty and staff to communicate with each other.

YouTube —The number one free video sharing site on the web with over 40% share of the online video market. Millions of videos are watched daily on the site which contains mostly user-generated and uploaded content.

The implications of YouTube in education are huge. YouTube can be used to enhance distance learning, to upload supplementary lectures and information like news reports; to contextualize an issue with video examples; to provide screen capture videos for demonstrations and can be easily embedded into lectures and presentations to provide interest.  YouTube now even has a separate site specially targeted for education videos.

Slideshare —A social site which allows users to upload PowerPoint presentations that are freely available online and easily embeddable for others to make use of. The site has many community features like tags, comments, communities and related slidecasts. I think the benefits of this one are pretty obvious: lecture material can be easily disseminated, students can locate other presentation s on the same or similar topics and teachers are able to build up a library of online resources.

Facebook Fan pages —A social networking site where users can add friends and send them messages; view their photos and updates; comment on updates; join networks of other users and send out notifications about themselves. Facebook Fan pages can be used as an open communication forum for students and faculty at an institution. The page can contain photos and videos from and about the institution and information about events, news, and important issues that are relevant for those who are members. Many schools have excellent Facebook Fanpages and are certainly taking advantage of what those sites can offer to their students.

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