Dr. Benjamin George from Utah State University gave a presentation at the University of Wyoming Evolution Conference on how he uses social media in the classroom. Not only did he explain what he was doing, but he also explained the reasoning behind it. I especially enjoyed his tie into the Media Synchronicity Theory.
George began his presentation by pointing out that kids are leading the world transition to digital media. The reason they are leading is because they are native to this technology and are not having to spend additional time learning how to use the technologies. He stressed the importance to integrate because there is a reason not simply because you think it would be fun. Use the right tool for the job. So far his students are happy with his integration of social media into the classroom.
Social media is the new way of communicating
Although George sounded all-encompassing, his points were understood. Students don’t use phones to make phone calls, they use their phones for digital communications. Students don’t have email addresses, they communicate using text messaging and social media. George further clarified that 15% did not have an email address and were forced to get one because they were students.
George noted the power of social media by talking about the Arab Spring when the number of tweets per day grew from 2,300 to 230k. He also provided statistics on Facebook and Twitter:
- 1 billion users
- 140 billion friends
- 22 median age
- 175 million tweets per day
- 50% mobile
- 62% young adults
Pinterest is currently fastest growing social media platform, and it is not just for women.
Media Synchronicity Theory
George also spent a significant amount of time discussing the Media Synchronicity Theory and how it applies to social media.
Media Characteristics and Capabilities
- Immediacy of feedback
- Symbol variety (number of ways to communicate)
- Parallelism (number of conversations supported)
- Rehearsability (ability to tweak message before delivery)
Two Primary Communication Goals
- Conveyance – dissemination of information
- Convergence – development of shared meaning
He showed which social media tools supported the primary communication goals of conveyance and convergence.
Social Media Classroom Examples
George uses Facebook in his classroom for a number of activities.
- Students create a timeline on Facebook to talk about historical events.
- Students are content creators on Fan pages and post content relevant to the class and discussion.
He uses Pinterest for design assignments. Students post assignments and others comment on their designs.
Ning is a social media engine. George uses Ning to post designs and then get subsequent feedback. Ning can be used to control distractions associated with other social media sites because it is a closed system.
NoteApp is a cork board where students can put stickies on designs. Students can post designs and receive feedback from others in the class. It is also a place where they can collaborate on a design.
This was an enjoyable and informative presentation. I was not aware of the Media Synchronicity Theory; I will have to investigate this theory further.