I took a day trip to Liverpool for an event from the Media Enhanced Learning Special Interest Group (MELSIG) called ‘Social Media for Learning #1: promoting participation and engagement with social and digital media in higher education’. ‘That’s a long way in a day’ my colleague said, but how could I miss the opportunity of an event so relevant to the Social and Cloud Based Learning and Teaching Service that I support?
The full programme offered multiple streams of presentations and in this post I’m sharing brief notes of my highlights of the day.
I arrived part way through the key note from Sue Beckingham (from Sheffield Hallam University) but did manage to catch some useful links giving advice for students :
Also a useful resource for staff, from Professor Andy Miah (University of the West of Scotland) The A to Z of Social Media for Academia, which lists platforms used by acedemics in their professional lives (
you can contribute to this by email or follow the hash tag #socialmediaHE)
Professor Miah also contributed a very watchable YouTube video on Social Media in Teaching and Learning
Twitter in Journalism
Steve Harrison (@newsnumeracy) from Liverpool Hallam University gave an interesting presentation about Twitter as a tool for teaching and learning in the context of an undergraduate Journalism course. He explained that in Journalism Twitter is part of the professional repertoire. When I questioned this later he explained that using Twitter cannot be optional for Journalism students as they would not be able to get a job without being able to use it. So expertise with Twitter is threaded through the three years of the course in increased levels of complexity. In first year students learn to write news tweets in 140 characters, in the second year students use protected Twitter accounts as part of an assessed piece of work and in the third year the students use public Twitter as a source which they use to research and distribute live news stories.
Several speakers were talking about the use of Facebook. Mark Feltham (@MarkFeltham666) from Liverpool John Moores University shared his approaches to teaching 1st year students a core module in fundamentals of science, which offered several challenges including large amounts of statistics and a Monday 9am teaching slot. His approach included an innovative mix of: flexible pedagogies; student choice; and the ‘maker ethos’; and utilised Facebook groups. Marks presentation offered 10 reasons why you should use Social media in your teaching including several which focus on Facebook as a familiar place for students (he found 99% of students are already on it) which is quick and easy to use. He also found it easy and more creative to set work in Facebook, for example posting videos or using tools like Bitstrips. It was found to be a great way to manage group work because it gave evidence of contribution and he could ‘scrape posts’ to document this.
Anne Nortcliffe from Sheffield Hallam University also spoke about using Facebook to manage a computing course on which she taught. The students volunteered to set up and manage the closed group and also came with Anne to MELSIG to talk about their experiences. It was interesting to hear from the students directly and they spoke enthusiastically about this approach. They liked being able to see who had seen what was posted and that you could ‘tag’ people to draw their attention to things , features they don’t have in their VLE. They liked it because no one got left out of events if they were organised in Facebook. They also found it the easiest way to contact someone and worked out that tagging their tutor Anne was the best way to get her to contribute to a discussion. They described Facebook as ‘second nature for students’.
LinkedIn advice for Students
Charlotte Cork, World of Work Team manager, Liverpool John Moores University offered advice on LinkedIn from the context of advising students, but much of which is applicable also to staff profiles. For example I now know that I can change my ‘professional headline’ rather than leaving it at its default setting of my current job title. She suggests that part of the value of LinkedIn for students is the insights that can be gained from looking at the profiles of people working in your field, their skills and career paths.
Using Pinterest to bridge theoretical gaps
Oli Young of Sheffield Hallam University, described his use of Pinterest as a tool to bridge theoretical gaps. He is teaching subjects such as Business Management, Hospitality, Finance and Legislation to students at level 4, 5 & 6 with little work experience. The students have a task to plan an international conference, and use Pinterest as a board to collect resources, such as venues and destinations. This means that when students move onto further aspects of the process they already have developed a context for the project and so it is more meaningful and less abstract.
As you might anticipate there was a lot of Twitter activity for this event which you can see ‘storified’ here: https://storify.com/melsiguk/melsig-social-media-for-learning-1
The focus of the day was on use of social media tools but I was interested to note that most speakers also talked about using the institutional VLE alongside these for other aspects on the course such as core content or assignment drop boxes. It interests me to see how the pieces such as core supported systems, external tools and service integrations fit together in different institutions.
MELSIG has a forthcoming event BYOD4L Bring Your Own Devices for Learning an open (registration free) learning event for students & teachers (facilitated, stand-alone, for other groups/courses) running online 14th – 18th July 2014.