Social & Mobile Technologies on Campus

Mobile devices and social media have revolutionized many aspects of our lives, including education. Recently, schools across the nation have begun to see the benefit of utilizing mobile and social technologies to make teaching more engaging and to keep prospective freshmen, current students, and alumni informed about the school.

Students learn in many different ways. Since Pinterest is essentially a platform to organize images, it is perfect visual learners. It’s a great study aid because it allows study groups to organize and share materials for class. It also gives instructors the opportunity to assemble resources that would be useful to students or important for upcoming exams.

Some professors are going beyond using Pinterest as a supplement for other classroom activities and are requiring engagement with the platform for course credit. Adjunct instructor Leslie Plesser from the University of Minnesota has incorporated the site into her basic media graphics class. She believes that Pinterest is a great way for students to find inspiration for projects, share ideas, or reinforce important lessons. In her class, while students aren’t graded on how well they pin, she does take note of their engagement and factor it into their participation grade.

Mashable recently published a great infographic that sums up a number of different ways educators use Pinterest.

Colleges and universities have begun to see the benefits of using social media to engage with their students, not just grade them.  According to the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth’s latest Social Media Adoption study, 100% of US colleges and universities are using some form of social media, whether it be Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, a blog, a message board, or some combination. Not surprisingly, Facebook is by far the most widely used platform (98% of schools have Facebook pages). Other networks are quickly catching up though. In just one academic year (from the 2009/2010 school year to the 2010/2011 school year), Twitter usage rose from 59% to 84% and LinkedIn usage jumped from 16% to 47%.

Twitter is being across campus to do everything from recruiting freshmen to cultivating school pride  among current students an alumni. Professors and students use Facebook pages to share notes and other important information about classes. And LinkedIn is a great way for students to connect with professors and receive recommendations for when they start their post-graduation job-hunt.

As in any industry, simply creating a social presence will not guarantee success. Here are a few things schools need to keep in mind when developing their social media accounts.

1)     Enthusiasm is a Must

If an account is managed by someone who doesn’t understand the nuances of that particular medium, or worse, someone who isn’t passionate about the school, students will be able to tell. They will feel like the interaction isn’t authentic and engagement will suffer.

2)     Keep Content Fresh

Simply creating a Twitter account of Facebook page isn’t enough. It needs to be constantly updated with new posts, relevant information, and engaging content.

3)     Encourage Engagement

Just like a sports franchise would be nothing without support from fans, your social media pages will be ghost towns without engagement from students. Use your pages to spark conversation between students and faculty or invite students to submit their creative work showcasing the school. Is there an on-campus organization planning an exciting fundraiser? Or is a big game against a bitter rival approaching? Encourage these groups to share the news on your social sites to drive more traffic and boost engagement.

4)     Moderate Content

A ground-breaking study recently discovered that men and women between the ages of 18-22 occasionally behave immaturely and have been know to make bad decisions from time to time. Of course, students at YOUR school are responsible, mature, and cultured young-adults so inappropriate or obscene comments and posts won’t be a problem. On the off-chance that a bad apple posts something malapropos, it’s important to have someone monitoring your accounts to remove the flagged content.

 

Educators are constantly finding new ways to teach and fresh ideas to help students get the most from their education. We’ve come a long way from the days when lecturers would spout information from the front of a stuffy room while students furiously scrawled every word into their notebooks in preparation for the all-important final exams. Today’s classrooms encourage discussion, interaction, and engagement. Professors use a variety of methods, platforms, and tools to assess what a student has learned, not just remembered for an exam. Students have long recorded lectures or typed notes on a laptop to easily reference the information later. And now, educators and students alike are benefitting from the social and mobile integration made possible through social networks. Staying on top of the technology wave is important for both educators, not only to speak to students in the languages and formats that are part of their lives, but to engage them on a deeper level and get the most out of the learning process.

Have you witnessed other ways that schools have used social media or mobile technology to augment the learning experience or make the school a better place? Sound off in the comments!

 

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