Sunday, August 19, 2012

Social Media as a Learning Tool in Higher Education

This fall, I'm teaching two sections of Technology in the Classroom and one section of English Language Arts Methods for Elementary Education majors. The campus, which has been eerily quiet this summer, will once again come to life as students return this week. I'm looking forward to daily face-to-face interactions with the pre-service teachers I have the privilege of working with, but I'm also excited about online interactions with those students via social media tools. I'm incorporating social media in different ways in my two courses. I'll be continuing some ideas from last semester, and there are a few new ideas that I'm experimenting with as well. I'd love to get your feedback about how you're using social media with your K-12 or higher ed students! Feel free to leave a comment below.


I use Edmodo as the Learning Management System for my Technology in the Classroom course. While the university provides an LMS for instructors and students, I chose Edmodo for this particular course because I want to model a tool that my students (pre-service teachers) can use in their future classrooms. Feedback from students in my course last spring was very positive in regards to using Edmodo as a teaching and learning tool. Many of them taught their cooperating teachers how to use Edmodo and used it as a classroom website during their student teaching. Edmodo helped me implement an entirely paperless classroom during the spring semester. All instructional resources are posted online, and students submit all assignments via Edmodo. Read more about how I use Edmodo as my LMS here.


One ongoing assignment in Technology in the Classroom is building a Personal Learning Network, and Twitter is the main tool we use to do that. I require my students to follow educators and organizations who share similar interests. Students also are expected to tweet reflections on course-related content throughout the semester, mainly by replying to questions I tweet. I created a hashtag for the course, #edu451, which helps me and my students organize our thinking and connect with one another.

One change I've made to how I'm using Twitter in my Technology in the Classroom course is that this fall I'll be requiring my students to participate in one Twitter chat sometime throughout the semester. I scheduled a Twitter chat with my class in place of a face-to-face meeting one week last semester when I was away at a conference, and the chat was a big hit. I'm planning to hold an online class meeting via Twitter chat again this fall. Additionally, my students will choose a Twitter chat that's focused on their interests, participate in the chat, and turn in a reflection on their participation in the chat. I'll be sharing this schedule with them.


I'm trying Pinterest with my students for the first time this fall. This is the primary social media tool I'll be using in my English Language Arts Methods course. I've created a board for my students to follow. Over the summer, I posted web resources, graphics, and ideas that will be useful to them. During the first week of class, I'm going to add my students as editors of the board so they can post resources as well. A benefit of using Pinterest as a way to capture and organize resources is that my students will have access to this board next year, when they are first-year teachers in their own elementary classrooms. They can also share the board with their cooperating teachers and other colleagues. I envision having students share not only great websites with each other but also upload their ideas and products from inside and outside of class. With the Pinterest app, students can easily upload a variety of items that will be helpful learning resources for their classmates. Here are some things I envision being added to our board:

  • a photo of a two-column chart generated during a small group activity in class
  • a photo of elementary students working in a literacy station in an Internship classroom
  • a photo of marked-up text representing a key learning from the week's reading
  • a photo of an anchor chart created during class as a response to readings or discussions

Read my guest posts on Free Technology 4 Teachers in which I detail my experiences last spring: initial post and follow-up post.


  1. Great post. I look forward to hearing how your students use the PLN tools to learn and collaborate throughout your course. This e-book may be of help:

    1. Thanks Torrey for the feedback and the resource!

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