Social media isn’t just social anymore.
Professors at the College of Charleston have been using social media in their courses for the past few years, and every year more professors add it to the syllabus. It’s a trend nationwide – according to a study by Pearson Learning Solutions and the Babson Survey Research Group, 41 percent of college professors use social media as a teaching tool.
Tweeting for a Grade
Social media isn’t just for communication majors. At the College of Charleston, it’s part of courses in nearly every major from biology to philosophy.
Teacher education instructor Susan Flynn requires her Health and Physical Education class to tweet articles or photos weekly using #cofcfit, and offers extra credit to her first year seminar students who do the same.
“I am trying to show my students that Twitter is powerful and they can gain so much by connecting with other teachers in the Twitter community,” Flynn explains. “Twitter offers self-directed learning, problem solving, support, informal learning, friendship, sharing and knowledge. Through twitter I have discovered vibrant, passionate educators whose sole purpose of using twitter is to share great things that are going on in their schools, their lessons and in their profession.”
RELATED: Follow Susan Flynn on Twitter.
“They had to post a paragraph in Spanish and comment on each other’s posts,” Grace explains. “They did a very good job with the language, and their insights about Spain. I believe the Facebook posts made them reflect on what they were experiencing and made them appreciate the art and culture around them.”
Communication instructor Jessica Smith incorporates social media as part of her students’ “participation and professionalism” grade and says she thinks Twitter would be effective in any class, regardless of discipline.
RELATED: Follow Jessica Smith on Twitter.
“I’m constantly sharing relevant resources via Twitter and asking my students to share articles, videos, images, and personal anecdotes. This encourages them to look for applications in their daily lives and proves the research we’re examining in class is not simply academic but actually very relevant,” Smith explains.
Beyond the Grade
Professors who are using social media in class have also noted some interesting results. Smith has found that students respond to her via Twitter even if they don’t respond via email or the College’s intranet, OAKS.
“I’ve found my more introverted students come to life on Twitter,” she explains. “They may not utter a word during class, but outside of class, they are tweeting up a storm! This gives them a platform to express themselves.”
Many people think that if you’re under 25 years old, then you’re an avid social media user, but College of Charleston professors have found that’s not the case.
Grace says, “Students respond very well to technology, but still not all of them knew how to use Facebook, and the ones who knew preferred to post on their own Facebook page. The best way to get them to post publicly in Spanish was to make it part of their grade.”
Flynn also says many students were reluctant to tweet at first. “By the end of the semester the students really see the value of Twitter and continue to share. We use #cofcfit so even when the students are no longer in my class, they can follow the hashtag and stay informed about items related to health and wellness.”
Digital literacy is a skill that employers expect of every college graduate – regardless of the career. It’s why you can expect social media to become part of more and more classroom assignments.