Social Media Tools for Projects and Assignments
At its core, Social Media is a broad term for a wide range of interactive, internet-based platforms. These platforms are meant for entertainment, communication, sharing, community building, interaction, networking, marketing, and more. Many forms of social media exist, including blogs, wikis, social networking, photo-sharing, instant messaging, video-sharing, podcasts, widgets, virtual worlds, and more. Most uses include personal profiles that showcase the events and moments in our lives and connect with our friends, family, communities, and greater communities with shared interests. Beyond personal use, social platforms can also be used for outreach, marketing, and education. Within Higher Education, Social Media can be used to accumulate work, publicly house a portfolio of work, create vision boards like collaboration spaces for links and images, expand upon professional communication and educational skills, and much more. For many social media platforms, the ability to use the platform comes from “branding” or how the profile is used consistently.
What Social Media should you use or be familiar with?
With so many social media platforms available, if you’re not well-versed in them, it can be difficult to know where to start if you want to look at integrating Social Media into your classroom. there are a few platforms that host content that can be used in a variety of ways in the classroom.
Voices is the College of Wooster’s WordPress site intended to allow instructors the opportunity for their students to blog within as an assignment. This platform, while public, is not heavily trafficked outside of classroom activity and can be set up for the course however is more useful to you the instructor!
Instagram is a photo and video-sharing platform. In a standard post, 1-9 photos or 1 video and can be posted with a caption that is up to 280 characters including any hashtags, you may use. This can bring the standard discussion post or forum for work among students into the public sphere for comment by industry professionals and allow students to showcase their work after graduation. It can also create dialogue within your class about communication styles in the public sphere being different, even while disseminating educational content, through the use of social media.
Tiktok is a platform for video sharing. Creators can upload a video made in another app and then add audio or soundtracks to it, they can simply record and edit within the application, and all videos on the site are filmed and presented in a portrait, mobile-friendly view. Videos tend to last anywhere from 15 seconds to 3 minutes of content. While the app started as a platform for singing or dancing along to songs – and can still be used this way – other forms of content are starting to come onto the market for viewers with particular interests. Museums, colleges, and other educational creators are putting out content to help engage learners and reach a broader audience.
If you or your students are uncomfortable with utilizing the platform for various reasons, submissions can always be sent directly to the instructor via moodle, with a discussion on potential performance on the application.
While not the most popular application anymore, Pinterest does still get plenty of use and can have applications in the classroom. Pinterest is a collection of sites and images in a “board” and will allow you to collage and piece together visions for various projects. The idea was to have a collection of boards, much like corkboards in a workroom, that you would “pin” ideas and favorite photos to the board, through the photos you can go back to the source material, so long as the original site is linked and not an image search. This technically pulls students’ work into the public eye, but very few people comment on or interact with others’ pins and boards, but it is possible.
Microsoft owns a video discussion social media platform that was designed by educators for use by educators. It allows teachers to post topics in a grid containing video and text, and allow students to submit their own video responses. Unlike other programs, while there are public groups that your students can join, the discovery of groups is not like the discovery of media content on Instagram, TikTok and Pinterest.
While there are many other uses for other social media platforms in the classroom, these are the most beginner-friendly versions with the easiest integration into the classroom.
Why use Social Media?
It’s understandable that Social Media is often seen as problematic. It certainly can be incredibly problematic. However, as the world advances, it is clear that social media is not going away, and is being used to communicate, market, network, engage and even learn with other people from around the globe. While there may be many reasons a person would not want to engage in social media personally, there is no doubt that there are professional uses for many of these platforms.
Different Social Media platforms can be used for different reasons. For example, while there are a great number of people on Facebook who do market themselves – particularly small businesses – it is primarily used for connecting to a small network of people. While Instagram is meant to engage with a wider audience and is more discoverable, beyond that Twitter allows for categorization!
No, really, why use Social Media?
First and foremost, your students are already there for the most part! Many of them are already learning, creating, and marketing themselves on various apps and platforms, connecting with friends, family, and broader audiences to create a “brand” for themselves – whether they recognize it or not!
Social Media Platforms, when used correctly can allow for mass communication of news, or scientific discoveries, concepts and ideas. They can help create portfolios, network with other industry professionals, and much more. Choosing to engage in social media can be fun and creative for your student, allowing them to further engage with your content, while also building their critical thinking skills, digital literacy, and global communication skills in one assignment. For others, it can be learning how to build a public, professional portfolio of works to help market themselves and their brand later down the line. There’s no shortage of uses for social media platforms as long as you’re using the right ones!
A note on social media in general. All social media has its criticisms. There is a company and corporation behind each of these platforms, and not all of them hold the same standard for censorship, commentary, and content. Social Media has been linked to poor mental health, body image issues, addiction increases, and the spread of misinformation. No application in wide use like this is without its negative implications and effects. While these negative effects are often due to other use issues, there is certainly a need to note the difficulties Social media can spread in the world.
Students are highly encouraged to create a new account in order to protect their anonymity and to preserve their private, academic, and professional lives. If you or your students have questions about this aspect, feel free to reach out to Educational Technology. We would be happy to discuss these aspects with you and your students.
- discuss and build communication differences across educational spaces
- Collaborate with industry peers or with peers in public, digital spaces
- Hone and build communication skills in digital spaces
- Exploration of social perceptions
- Collaborate and explore within digital spaces
- Further digital skills to become an informed digital citizen
- Learn about and use new platforms to understand their benefits, challenges, and opportunities
- Engage in thoughtful curation of their material whether through writing, discovery or otherwise
- Work towards building more effective communication with their peers and others
- Use of features that are particular to social media tools such as mentions and hashtags
Parts of a Successful Projects/Assignments
- Demonstrates an attempt to utilize a variety of tools, technologies, and methods in the project
- Collaborated with peers, faculty members, and other groups such as Educational Technology (where applicable)
- Meets the goals of the course and the assignment as set by the faculty member
Students should be expected to complete various posts/uploads depending on the type of social media tool that will be utilized for the course. However, basic expectations should include students engaging in thoughtful curation of their material, conscious choices, and effective communication with their peers and others.
On Campus Resources
Educational Technology staff is available for consultation on project planning, design, and to teach workshops or tutorials on various software. They can be contacted by Email (EducationalTechnology@wooster.edu) or can be booked for consultations through Bookings.
- Educational Technology’s Digital Media Assistants are available at the Digital Media Bar(DMB) for students to get assistance with software and design. They can be reached during hours at the DMB or through their own Bookings.
The Digital Studio is a workspace in Andrews Library for students to record and edit their audio and video projects. Resources include the Sound Studio to record audio and the One Button Studio (OBS) to record video. Students can create and edit digital projects on desktop computers in the Editing suite. The Sound Studio and OBS can be reserved on 25Live.
The Writing Center can be a great resource for creating scripts and other storyboarding needs.
The Alternative Assessments Training course on the training site can provide other information and ideas on how to use Social Media in a classroom.
Suggested Readings and Materials
- Bryan Alexander’s, “Blogging literature: the Draculablog begins again.”
- Chris Dede, “Social Media and Challenges to Traditional Models of Education.”
- Daniel Miller, et al. “What Is Social Media?”
- Rebecca Onion’s, “Snapshots of History: Wildly popular accounts like @HistoryInPics are bad for history, bad for Twitter, and bad for you”
- Jerry Saltz’s, “Art at Arm’s Length: A History of the Selfie”
- Tom Standage’s, Writing on the Wall: Social Media – The First 2,000 Years (Reservable at the Library)
- Chris Rowell’s Social Media in higher Education: Case Studies, Reflections and Analysis (Accessible at the Library’s site)
Projects in Action
Dr. Katie Holt’s Wooster Encounters
3 Students, 3 Ways to Use Flipboard (now Flip)
Dr. Jessica Hardin’s Use of Twitter in the Classroom
Dr. Katie Holt has student submit slides for the Woo History Instagram account
How do you grade an assignment like this?
Much like other alternative assignments, it’s often more about the process and the intentions of the student than it is about the finished product. For instructors who have assigned Alternative projects, like using social media in their classroom – the grading process is primarily about content, but does involve the learner’s ability to use the technology required so there is some investment in performing well in the technical aspects of the assignment.