Social media poses an interesting challenge to online educators. As educators, it is imperative that we understand the potential uses and implications of including social media in our pedagogy, but oftentimes, our own students know more than we do about what’s out there, what’s working, how, and why. Our task, then, has become two-fold: Harness the positive and collaborative aspects of social media in online learning while still effectively teaching and preparing our students for life outside the virtual classroom.
In Dr. John Beckham’s section of the Diversity in the Workplace course, we are piloting the use of Facebook in student discussions. Using their course email, students are asked to “friend” other students taking the course. Providing a live stream in the course via Facebook (below) allows students to communicate with each other while also seamlessly participating in class discussions. Their discussion posts are also sent to their Facebook wall, which effectively acts as an electronic portfolio of their discussion posts.
Integrating the Facebook live stream with course discussion offers several unexpected advantages. Because of its popularity, most students are familiar with the Facebook interface. Students can readily and easily harness the powerful interactivity of the Facebook platform and effortlessly create a virtual e-portfolio of their own discussion participation throughout the course. Another benefit is the mobile accessibility of Facebook accounts, which make it easy for students to access their own profile, and thus, the activity taking place in the course discussions, via their cell phones and/or other mobile devices.