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

3 CETL workshops you don’t want to miss!!

Well, you don’t want to miss any of our workshops, so in addition to the ones I will tell you about below, you can find out more about other exciting Camosun eLearning workshops, and register too, at:

But there are three in particular I want to mention today.

First, Ethical Dimensions of Educational Technology

Many of us are integrating educational technology into our teaching, but how many of us are discussing the ethical issues that come along with those technologies? This blended workshop (first part online, second part face-to-face) will support conversations around institutional policy, privacy, social justice, accessibility, and personal risk, when it comes to educational technology, and help you develop strategies for being creative and innovative while keeping these issues in mind.

  • Who: Brian Lamb, Thomson Rivers University and Emily Schudel, Camosun College
  • When: Mon., May 14, 1:00-4:00 pm
  • Where: Lansdowne, Library and Learning Commons, Room 151
  • Register at:

Second, Creating Community in the Online Classroom

What does it mean to create an online community for your students? What considerations do you need to keep in mind when developing online activities to support that online community? This blended workshop will give you the opportunity to engage in online community building, and to work with your peers face-to-face to develop strategies for integrating online community-building activities into your course. NOTE: the online component will run first, taking 1-2 hours to complete over a week, and will be followed by a 1½ hour face to face session.

  • Who: Emily Schudel and Martha McAlister, CETL
  • When: Online: Wed., May 16-May 23;  Face-to-Face: May Wed., May 23, 11:30am-1:00pm
  • Where: Lansdowne, Library and Learning Commons, Room 151
  • Register at:

And finally, Flipping Out over the Flipped Classroom

Wonder what all the hype is around the “flipped” classroom? Come experience one way to flip a classroom in our 2-hour workshop. In this flip, the first hour will be online in D2L and will start on Friday, May 5 and run until May 12, and the second hour will be in the “classroom” on May 12. In this workshop, you will:  Learn about what it means to flip a classroom; Discuss your own ideas for flipped classroom activities with Camosun colleagues; Learn about the pros and cons of flipping the classroom

  • Who: Martha McAlister and Emily Schudel, CETL
  • When:  Online: Wed., May 9-May 16;  Face-to-Face: May Wed., May 16, 11:00am-12:30pm
  • Where: Lansdowne, Library and Learning Commons, Room 151
  • Register at:

Have questions?  Want to know more?  Email Emily Schudel at

Social Media in Teaching and Learning

So today, I ran a workshop on the Power of Social Media in Teaching and Learning.  As we discussed in the session, there are many things to keep in mind when considering using social media in education (privacy being only one of these many things), and at some point I will write a post outlining some of these considerations.  But, at the end of the session I shared a document listing a number of really useful social media tools, as well as ideas of how they can be used in educational settings, and links to specific examples.  And after I thought I should share them here as well so others can take a peek and think about how these tools might support their students.

If you would like an electronic copy of this handout, or if you would like to know more about using social media tools in your teaching, come and talk to us!

Social Media Workshop, September 21 2016 – Examples to Think About and Links to Check Out

Networking Tools

Example activities

Image sharing

  • Flickr (used for storing and organizing images and sharing them out, with search functions) – CAN LIMIT SHARING
  • Instagram (a photo sharing app for smart phones built for social networking and sharing images) – MOBILE (limited)

Example activities

Video sharing

  • YouTube (for storing, organizing and sharing out videos) – – CAN SHARE TO LIMITED PEOPLE
  • Vimeo – for storing, organizing and sharing out videos – NO ADS, FREE LEVEL IS LIMITED
  • Slideshare – for creating voiceover PPT presentations and sharing them (note, no privacy options unless purchased)
  • Vine create and share looping videos – smart phone app allows you to create a video up to 6 seconds long with the in-app camera – MOBILE

Example activities

  • Showing activities on a field trip
  • Student projects (showing steps of an activity, lab experiments, etc.)
  • Interviews, case studies, practicum activities (privacy could be a concern – waivers, etc.)

Organizing and sharing information – Curation: collecting and sorting content, and in this case, digital assets (digital curation)

Example activities

Blogs (for pushing out content, usually posting content on a regular basis, and allowing for interaction by way of liking and commenting) (wordpress, blogger, tumblr)

Example uses of Twitter

  • Announcements and reminders
  • Quick links to interesting resources, searching for experts in the field and industry-related feeds
  • A way for students to network with industry and industry professionals
  • How about a twitter story, for example in ESL
  • In the classroom – a way of keeping tabs on ongoing questions during a lecture or video
  • 60 Inspiring Examples of Twitter in the Classroom:

Use of blogs in education

Collaborative tools

  • Wikis (for example, Wikipedia) –
  • Etherpad – a synchronous wiki-like tool used for notetaking and archiving – can be used by multiple people at the same time, so is a collaborative tool – I’ve seen it used it in meetings where everyone can take notes at once to make sure everything gets recorded.
  • Google Docs –

Example activities

General examples

Synchronous communication

General Resources

Privacy: what’s the least I need to know if I’m using online tools in my teaching?

You want students to blog, work in groups on a wiki, sign up for publisher materials, complete assessments on a fantastic new website that is perfect for your subject matter. Sounds great, but before planning too far in advance, there are some important considerations to keep in mind, one of which involves protecting the privacy of your students.

I’ll avoid going into much detail on the BC Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA) – you can read more about it at  Instead I am going to give you the basics of how FIPPA could affect what kinds of online tools you can use, and how you can use them in your teaching.

In brief, FIPPA requires that personal information, specifically that of your students, be stored and accessed in Canada only. Therefore, if you wish to utilize third-party, web-based tools that are, for example, running on servers residing in the United States to support your teaching (e.g., social-media tools), there are certain things you need to consider before asking students to use them to complete a course-related activity.

Assuming you already know if the tool you wish to use is on an American server (how to find this out is a topic for another post), AND that students will need to provide personal information in order to use the tool, then you need to consider:

  1. Is the activity mandatory (e.g., is it a required assessment component of the course?)
  2. Is the activity optional (i.e., can students easily complete it without using this tool?)

In either case, you need to provide your students with notice: notice of what activity they will be completing, the tool to be used, what personal information they will be required to provide and why, how the tool’s providers could use the information, etc.

If the activity is mandatory, however, in addition to notice, you must receive informed consent from your students (a written and signed form). If a student does not wish to sign the informed consent form, then you, as the instructor, must provide that student with an alternative to the activity so that they are not penalized for their refusal.

Finally, we also recommend that you provide your students with general information on how to protect their privacy when using third-party, web-based tools.

To find out more about FIPPA as it relates to the use of web-based tools in teaching and learning, go to BCcampus’ Privacy and Security site (, specifically the Privacy Guidelines for Instructors PDF (

If you are a faculty member at Camosun College, you can also talk to an eLearning instructional designer who can help you determine if the tool(s) you wish to use are compliant with FIPPA, or if you will need to provide your students with notice and/or an informed consent waiver. An instructional designer can also provide you with a notice and/or a waiver template that you can adapt for your own use, and help you prepare a privacy and technology tips sheet for your class.

Note that Camosun College will soon be revising its privacy policy. Updates on this revision will appear in future blog posts.

Reference:  Privacy Guide for Using 3rd Party Web Technology in Public Post-Secondary Courses (PDF, Feb. 2011), BCcampus:

Random Online Teaching Post: Instructor Presence, part 1

Today I am going to post #1 of a short series of posts on instructor presence in the online classroom that will explore the following questions:

  1. What is instructor presence?
  2. How do you establish it?
  3. How do you maintain it in a way that does not lead to the online class taking over your life?

In this first post I am going to talk a bit about what instructor presence is and what it might look like, as well as discuss some best practices around establishing presence.

Instructor presence

… a sense of presence is “being there” and “being together” with online learners throughout the learning experience. It looks and feels as if ….the instructor is accessible to the learners and that the learners are accessible to the instructor and each other, and that the technology is transparent to the learning process.

Lehman, R.M. and Conceição, S.C.O (2010) Creating a Sense of Presence in Online Teaching, Jossey-Bass, p. 3

Online presence involves interacting in some way with your students in your online course site.  This could be as simple as saying “hello!” or answering questions posted in a discussion forum, or posting reminders in the News tool.  Remember that while you may go into your online course frequently to read postings and grade assignments, your students can’t see you there unless you “talk” to them.  And if you don’t talk to them once and a while, they will begin to think you are not there at all.  The trick comes with finding a way to be present without taking too much of the lead and dampening student to student interaction.

Establishing presence

There are many ways to establish your presence in an online classroom, but a large part of establishing presence lies in how you design your course.  For example, in addition to organizing your course site so it is easy to navigate,

  • Plan for what tools you will use to keep in touch with your students and create spaces for interaction.
  • Set course expectations as part of the course design, and place this information in easy-to-access locations.
  • If you are going to use media (audio or video, for example) to enhance your presence in your online classroom, plan for this early so you have time to create your media pieces and set them up on your course site.

Strangely enough, another way to inject your presence is through the tone of your writing voice.  If you plan on providing students with text-based content (and you definitely will be if you are teaching blended or completely online), read it aloud to yourself (or to a friend or colleague) and ask yourself if it sounds like you’re speaking to students or reading a textbook.  Writing your course notes in a style that mimics how you would talk to your students in a face-to-face class will help bring you to life even without audio or video.

Once your course starts, the easiest way to establish your presence is to use your course discussion forums.  For example,

  • Post an introduction to yourself, including some personal information, a picture, and perhaps an audio or video clip so students can put a face and voice to your name.
  • In addition to an introduction, post a Welcome message to help set the tone for the course.
  • Communicate immediately where students can expect to hear from you during the course (i.e., is there an Instructor Messages forum they should be checking? Will you be using the News tool to send regular messages?), as well as how often (i.e., will you be checking the site daily? In the morning? Evening? How often will you be replying to student questions, etc.?) Once you’ve established your plan, stick to it. And if it has to change for some reason, let your students know.

This is just the beginning – once you establish your presence, you need to maintain it.  So, in my next post on online presence (which may be a few weeks away), I will take a closer look at some best-practice examples around maintaining your presence in the online classroom, and discuss some tips and tricks to help you find a good balance between too much presence and not enough.

For further information about Instructor Presence and examples of establishing presence online: