Social Media Use in Education – Workshop Synopsis

Last May I ran some workshops related to social media and the use of online tools in teaching and learning. This month I am going to present a series of posts related to these workshops. This first post is a synopsis of the Social Media Use in Education workshop, which was promoted with the following blurb:  “Interested in integrating social media into your classroom?  This workshop will examine various social media tools used in the teaching and learning and discuss best practices.  In addition, participants will have the opportunity to share strategies on how social media can be incorporated into their own courses.”

Before beginning the discussions around what social media is and why you would use it to support your teaching, I wanted to find out what the participants knew about social media so I could start the conversation from where they were at. The two questions I asked to kick things off were:

  • What big question do you bring to this workshop?
  • What do you know about social media?

We decided social media is about:

  • Sharing and exchanging
  • Communicating, interacting, and collaborating
  • Networking
  • Managing relationships
  • Keeping in touch
  • Curating/collecting resources
  • Modifying resources
  • Bringing “the real world” into the classroom

Knowing this, we then discussed why faculty might want to integrate social media applications into their teaching. Some of the aspects social media brings to the table include:

  • Collecting and evaluating resources
  • Sharing works with small groups, the whole class, professionals in the field, etc.
  • Developing new resources through collaboration and teamwork
  • Transferring “control” to the students (fostering a sense of ownership over the course content)
  • Fostering peer-to-peer learning and critiquing
  • Supporting the development of transferable skills
  • Learning about community and social engagement
  • Opening the door to experts from outside of the classroom to see the students’ work
  • Bringing the world into the classroom

To give the participants some more specific ideas of what all this means, I showed some specific examples of social media tools:


Image sharing

Video sharing

Organizing and sharing information – Curation

Collaborative tools/Wikis


But of course, we also needed to talk about specific ways that these tools can be used to support teaching and learning.  The following websites all have great examples of social media use in education:



Image and Video sharing



Use of Collaborative tool like Google docs and Wikis in education

Of course, as with integrating any educational technology into your teaching, there are many considerations that need to be kept in mind as you investigate various online tools. For example:

  • Privacy – is the tool in compliance with BC’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, and does it comply with Camosun’s privacy policy?
  • Accessibility – is the tool accessible to a range of abilities, devices, etc.?
  • Copyright and Intellectual property – who owns the content once it has been placed into the tool/environment in question?
  • Support – is there technical and training support available for you and for your students? Is there a cost? Who will pay for it?
  • Choice and evaluation – make sure to choose the right tool for the task/learning outcome, and evaluate the tools before committing to them.
  • Ask others – is anyone else at the college using this tool? What is their experience?
  • Plan, plan, plan, then design, pilot, revise. Start with one activity and one tool, then debrief – if things don’t work, maybe it wasn’t the tool – revise and try it again
  • Provide clear instructions to your students and be prepared to give them an alternate activity if privacy is an issue, or if they have technical challenges (i.e., what is Plan B?)

So, what kinds of things are the workshop participants going to try? Well, some of them are going to think a little more about why, or if, they want to introduce social media into their teaching at all, but at the very least will be talking more with their students about things they should be considering when engaging with social media themselves. As for specific tool use, a couple of the participants will be exploring Instagram Stories in their courses (Instagram stories are…). In addition, Etherpad and blogging struck a note with a couple of faculty, which is exciting since Camosun now has a WordPress instance of its own that students will be able to use after May of this year.  If you have used social media tools to support your teaching, I would love to hear from you.  Feel free to post your experiences in the Comments, or send me an email at

Since I first ran this workshop, the face of social media has changed – tools come and go all the time.  This makes it a new workshop every year, so if you haven’t taken it before, or even if you have, I can guarantee you will learn something new when I run it again this spring!

Additional Resources

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