Social Media in Learning Activities

5 Suggestions for Using Social Technologies

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1. Learn the Technology Inside-Out

To fully take advantage of the wide variety of technological tools available, you must master them yourself before you can employ them to teach others. Practice by participating in Facebook discussions, contribute to a Wiki, use virtual conferencing apps to connect with others, lead a discussion on Twitter, or create a blog of your own. Also, understand the potential technical difficulties that can occur with your selected technology and have a Plan B ready, just in case. There are an ever-growing amount of tools at your disposal. Learn which ones work best for your purposes.
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2. Choose The Right Medium

Consider the information you're trying to convey to others and who it is you're trying to teach. What form of social media will pair up best with it? Will a discussion led by you be most suitable? Should the learner interact with a presentation you've prepared in advance? How much participation do you want to see from the learners? Understanding what you're hoping to achieve with social media will help you narrow your focus and choose the proper social media platform.
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3. Create Pre-Instruction Materials

Help the learners start off on the right foot by preparing materials relevant to the upcoming instruction. This can be accomplished by creating multimedia presentations employing video, podcasts, and web links. You can also engage with your learners leading up to the instruction to gauge what they already know and what learning styles best suit them. Tailor your presentation as necessary based on their feedback.
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4. Know Your Learners

Carefully consider what social media technology to use based on who you are instructing. While younger learners may be savvy enough to pick on a wide range of technologies, older learners may struggle more if the interaction is too complex. Likewise, sharing a simple PowerPoint presentation may work better for older learners but could bore younger ones. Choosing the wrong method may lead to your learners disengaging during instruction. Wisely choose what method will work best based on your audience.
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5. Ask for Feedback and Include Post-Instruction Activities

By not teaching the learners face-to-face, it can be difficult to gauge how well your audience has understood the new knowledge presented to them. Consider monitored activities the learner can engage in to test the new knowledge and help keep the information fresh. Additionally, solicit feedback from them to see what aspects of the instruction worked and what didn't. Use the feedback to tweak your methods.
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Allen, M., Naughton, J., & Ellis, R. (2011). Social Learning. T+D, 65(8), 50-55.

Steer, D. (2012). Improve Formal Learning With Social Media. T+D, 66(12), 31-33.