Social Media and Curriculum

22 Facilitating Student Participation and Engagement though Blogging and Social Media

Delaney Jones

Delaney Jones (delaney.jones@uoit.net)
University of Ontario Institute of Technology

Abstract

Social media in the classroom is a growing trend and full acceptance of the use of it will help connect students to the curriculum. Blogs are a way that students can be motivated due to the knowledge they learned being related to a platform they enjoy using. A curriculum that promotes engagement, participation, and collaboration encourages the change from traditional teaching strategies to a classroom with social media presence. The net generation is the generation who has grown up in a world full of innovation. (Tapscott, 2009) With leading edge technology students can be creative, and resourceful inside the classroom. By using social media platforms like Blogger in the classroom, teachers are taking a chance on the innovations and using it to educate the students. Introducing technology in the classroom has allowed for students to be creative with their content and remain interested in the learning process. In order to successfully integrate social media platforms there must be acceptance, and the ability to connect and motivate the use of such platforms.

Keywords: Applications, Barriers, Blogs, Connectivism, Creativity, Curriculum, Interventions, Modeling, Motivation, and Social Media.

Introduction

Social media sites like Instagram are connecting people around the world creating a global village. (Ralon, 2017) Instagram has affectively connected people with content from around the world without leaving their home. When allowing mainstream social media sites into the classroom educators are teaching students about connecting with people and knowledge that transcends the classroom walls. Social media is also allowing teachers to reach beyond the school walls and connect with educators around the world to get opinions on curriculum and teaching strategies. Social media also pushes students and the curriculum to explore alternative identities. While social media is known for being a distraction for students, teachers all over the world are taking a step forward in fighting to make it educational. In the world of education students are taught new knowledge every day. With the rise of access to technology comes the fight of how to successfully integrate technology into the classroom while still promoting learning and engaging students.

Background Information

Technology impacts curriculum when it is successfully integrated into the classroom. Paul Tess and many other scholars are arguing that integration of social media is a purposeful educational tool. (Tess, 2013) In his journal entitled The Roles of Social Media in Higher Education Classes, Tess describes the increasing acceptance of social media in the classroom as a way to promote active learners. (Tess, 2013) With social media playing a huge role in student’s personal lives there is a way to mimic this by transforming social media into a form of a collaborative learning tool. Social media is defined as a technological system related to communication and collaboration. (Tess, 2013) Social media platforms used to create blogs or Instagram to post pictures allows for users to create content on their profiles and share with others.

Real World Connections

Educators need to make learning meaningful by finding ways for students to connect their learning to the real world. By allowing students to make real world connections students are said to retain new information better. (Donovan, Bransford, & Pellegrino, 2002) By allowing students to use blogs to research and write assignments teachers are using real life connections to help keep students engaged and actively participating in the content.

Creativity.

Using blogs and social media in the classroom allows for the acquisition and implementation of new ideas. In return students are creatively presenting information with the use of technology. (21st Century Competencies, 2016) By integrating blogs into the curriculum educators are promoting students to think creatively and outside of the norm. This is when different programs are used to teach creative thinking to the students. (Petty, 2013) In order to teach and use creativity programs teachers can use a website called Blogger to allow the students to be creative with the content or projects they are working on.

Interventions. Studies show that short exercises that relate student’s feelings about school can lead to better student achievement. (Fullan, 2013) By allowing students to create meaning behind the content they have learned, teachers are getting students to engage more with their school work. A technology tool that can be used to do this is Blogger. Blogs are a way for students to express their thoughts and increase student engagement by letting them use a social media platform they enjoy using.

Applications

Applying social media and in particular blogs in the classroom has been proven to be a difficult task due to technology acceptance. The technology acceptance model is described as the way in which people accept and use technology. (Lin, Kim, 2016) The use of technology in the classroom is difficult in some schools due to the shortage of access to technology, lack of education, and lack of acceptance. In order for social media platforms to be successfully integrated into the curriculum there needs to be technology for students to use and acceptance of the use of technology by all staff. Knowing how to apply social media skills to the classroom will in return allow for educators to optimize learning outcomes.

Connectivism

Connectivism is the view that knowledge and cognition are distributed across networks of people and technology. (Dunaway, 2011) Connectivism theory is focused on the understanding that decisions are based on the ever changing foundation. (Siemens, 2005) With the rise of technology comes the change in the foundation of teaching strategies. To apply the connectivism principles in our learning community we can take advantage of social media networks such as blogs and community forums, and a variety of other online tools. This will make your eLearning courses collaborative, interactive, and experience-rich. In the rapidly changing world of digital technology one can see how the shift to the use of social media sites in the classroom has created new opportunities and ways to learn.

Breaking Barriers

Another way to integrate social media platforms like blogs into the classroom is by allowing for knowledge to be shared even when students are facing barriers to physically being in the learning environment. Financial constraints, physical restrictions or unreasonable long commutes can make it difficult for students to physically attend class. (Abe and Jordan, 2013) By using blogs to interact with students, teachers can successfully create a learning environment. If they also use video conferencing tools the teachers can simulate the classroom environment without requiring physical presence.

Modelling.

Applying blogs in the classroom can be complicated if students can’t see how they can blog in relation to the course curriculum. In order to integrate social media in the classroom teachers can model the use of blogs by posting homework, class news, or classroom lectures showing the use of the blog in the educational world. This is also known as the theory of cognitive apprenticeship where the instructor models the skill to teach the students. The teacher will allow the student to practice the skills while still being monitored by the teacher. For students the use the social media site under the guidance of the instructor is key to successfully using the platform. For students to see how they can use blogs for educational purposes is the first step in getting the student to understand how to integrate it into their assignments and use it to it’s full potential.

Motivation.

Motivating students to want to obtain control over their learning is a difficult task if the students are not engaged in the content. (Petty, 2013) In order to reach the desired learning outcome of the students having desire to learn, the teacher needs to find a way to motivate the students. Technology tools that would be used is social media and the internet as each student is going to find a topic more motivating and engaging. In order to keep them engaged they need assess to as many resources’ they enjoy as possible. To keep students motivated teachers can use social media sites to keep students interested in the curriculum.

Conclusions and Future Recommendations

In conclusion the successful application of social media sites in the classroom relies on the acceptance and the ability to connect and motivate the use of such platforms. Although there are some educators and students that are not willing to accept social media in the classroom, adoptive instructors are important for the implementation to eventually happen. In order to effectively integrate social media in the curriculum, schools need to take on the role of educating and training teachers on how to use and how to appropriately integrate social media. As the interest and use of technology as an educational tool grows teachers and school boards need to view this as a shift in the way students learn. In order to keep educating students, teachers must stay up to date in the way in which students will be motivated, interested and connected to the curriculum.

References

21st Century Competencies. (2016). Retrieved from http://www.edugains.ca/resources21CL/21stCenturyLearning/21CL_21stCenturyCompetencies.pdf

Abe, P., & Jordan, N. A. (2013). Integrating social media into the classroom curriculum. About Campus, 18(1), 16-20.

Donovan, M., Bransford, J., & Pellegrino, J. (2002). Key findings. In How People Learn: Bridging Research and Practice, 10-24.

Dunaway, M. K. (2011). Connectivism. Reference Services Review, 39(4), 675-685.

Fullan, M. (2013). Pedagogy and change: Essence as easy. In Stratosphere, 17-32.

Lin, C. A., & Kim, T. (2016). Predicting user response to sponsored advertising on social media via the technology acceptance model. Computers in Human Behavior, 64, 710-718.

Petty, G. (2013). John Hatties table of effect sizes. In Evidence-based Teaching, 2, 60-70.

Ralón, L. (2017). From global village to global theater: The late McLuhan as a philosopher of difference, sense, and multiplicities. Review of Communication, 17(4), 303-319.

Siemens, G. (2005). Connectivism: A learning theory for the digital age. elearnspace: everything elearning. Available from http://www.elearnspace.org/Articles/connectivism.htm

Tapscott, D. (2009). The eight net gen norms. In Grown up Digital, 75-96.

Tess, P. A. (2013). The role of social media in higher education classes (real and virtual) – A literature review. Computers in Human Behavior, 29(5), 60-68.

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Technology and the Curriculum: Summer 2018 by Delaney Jones is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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