Social Media for Learning in Higher Education #SocMedHE15


#SocMedHE15 is the inaugural Social Media for Learning in Higher Education Conference, a one day conference, hosted by Sheffield Hallam University. The conference will debate and examine our use of social media and its impact on the higher education learning landscape. Together, we will develop our understanding of good, sustainable practice by sharing accounts of emerging innovation in the pedagogic use of social media. Further details here can be found on the conference website.

I am delighted to present a paper (due Feb, 2016) titled: Social Media as a Professional Medium: an equilibrium of enthusiasm and protection for student teachers.

This paper explores the use of social media within a blended mode of study. Specifically, it aims to consider the professional use of online social contexts to support teaching and encourage collaboration between learners. It will illustrate some factors intended to protect their digital identities, confidence and online well-being.

The University of Glasgow School of Education recently established a blended learning course at undergraduate level (initial teacher education). It was the overall aim of the course to expose 70 students to an eclectic mix of exciting ideas within education. This was designed to challenge them. Delivered through the virtual learning environment (VLE), students and teaching staff were expected to engage in professional dialogue by blogging and participating in discussion through social networking platforms such as Twitter (see: Hashtag #MEduc14 #MEduc15). The course aims to enable students to demonstrate understanding of the foundational content and values of education and to be able to articulate a personal stance towards the discipline. It aims to enable them to engage with conventional and new modes of communication as well as facilitating personal confidence and collaborative styles of working. As part of their assessment, students must evidence their online collaboration through the production of both verbal and visual media e.g. YouTube, WordPress, Instagram etc.

In creating this culture of online discussion and in encouraging students to use Twitter and to write blogs, the course takes a pragmatic look on the use of social media as a professional medium and seeks to protect the newly created digital identities of the students as they begin their career as school teachers.

The paper draws from an evidence-based approach and presents data captured through the wider evaluation of the course to describe the use of social media in this context from the perspective of both the course tutors and the students. Crucially, it makes a series of suggestions which other educators may wish to consider when encouraging students to create virtual learning networks and digital media for teaching, learning and collaboration.

My conference presentation can be downloaded here: Presentation.

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