Is Social Media a Fad?

There seems to be a lot of discussion happening around the use of social media in VET.  Almost daily teachers ask me – ‘should I use social media in my course’ or ‘how can I use social media in the course?’.  Sometimes the discussion turns ‘ I don’t think students will do their work if they have access to Twitter or Facebook’.

Before you make a decision I suggest you check your organisation’s social media policy and make sure you understand it. If your organisation doesn’t have a social media policy this is your starting point. If you need help you could check out the NSW Have your Say website for some cool tips and strategies for using Social Media.

There are so many ways you can incorporate the use of social media in your training programs and I believe if planned correctly (its more about their purpose, than it is about using them) you won’t have issues with students playing around on Twitter and Facebook and not completing the required tasks or learning. Here’s a thought…. use Twitter and Facebook to capture their thoughts on a topic, to share research they have found, to discuss current events etc.

One of the reasons I use social media in my classroom is the opportunity to build in and capture social learning opportunities. Social learning can be loosely described as learning in a social context by observing and communicating with others, reflecting on our own behaviours and modifying these behaviours to suit. Some of my favourite theorists are Bandura, Vygotsky and Lave and Wenger.

Another reason to consider Social Media is that it offers the potential to create communities of practice. Be careful here though just because you join a group, contribute to a discussion forum or participate in a community, doesn’t make it a community of practice. There needs to be strong commitment from the members, shared goals and objectives and a desire to keep each other accountable. For educators a real benefit of belonging to a community of practice is the members are committed to sharing and building the skills and abilities of the members and most importantly sharing resources. Sounds ideal, doesn’t it! If you would like more information on what is a community of practice from Wenger himself watch the embedded video below. I found this interview really useful.

There are numerous blogs and articles that provide tips and helpful information on how you can use social media with your learners. Some of my favourite include:

Using social media in the classroom for real world learning
Students social media warnings
A great guide on teaching students about a digital footprint

The GCF LearnFree website for some great tutorials if you need some assistance getting started.


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