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Social Media

What is Social Media?

Social media can be defined as websites or tools enabling social networking, allowing connectivity and interactions among users. Social media can be used to enhance communication and collaboration in teaching and learning, some examples of social media tools that can be used for teaching and learning include discussion forums, blogs, wikis and web conferencing.  Examples of social media sites include Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest.

Using Social Media for teaching and learning

Social media is now part of our lives and there is a growing interest in the potential of using social media to enhance teaching.  Through the use of social media tools, there can be many opportunities for building learning communities, easily communicating and collaborating with your students, and engaging your students in their learning. This can be especially valuable for online students who do not experience the on-campus community.

Social Media tools already available at ECU

Many tools are already available within ECU's suite of IT tools.  ECU supported social tools provide a controlled, safe, accessible and supported environment where student interactions can be easily monitored and records are kept of their participation and assessments.  Examples of social media tools already available at ECU include PebblePad, Adobe Connect and the Blackboard Social Learning tools.

Using external Social Media tools

If deciding to use an external source for social media tools, it is recommended that both staff and students understand that any use of social media tools or sites within their teaching environment are bound by ECU's IT Policy (for both staff and students), the Student Charter (for students), the Code of Conduct, the ECU Media Policy  including the Responsible Use of Social Media guidelines which is linked to the ECU Social Media policy. Any breach of these conditions may make you legally liable. Be mindful of the potential for damage to the University’s brand and reputation.

Other recommendations and guidelines when using an external Social Media site for teaching and learning include:

  • Make sure there is no cost associated with using the tool or site: there should be no cost to students.
  • Provide alternative options available for students who choose not to use them.
  • Make sure you are aware of any accessibility issues from both disability and Internet restriction aspects.
  • Ensure you can provide adequate IT support for the staff and students using the site, as ECU's IT Services cannot provide support.
  • Ensure adequate record keeping and archiving, for any assessments uploaded to external sites.
  • Make students aware that any contributions to the sites are potentially publicly viewable and searchable; provide students with the Social Media @ ECU – Student Guide.

When using any social media tool you should:

  • Check the tool or site’s provider terms of service and policies and be aware you and your students will be bound by these policies as well as the University’s policies.
  • Communicate expectations to students - let them know what they'll be using and why, include all details of the social media tools used and accounts required.
  • Consider your privacy as well as that of your students, never post or comment on private, confidential or secure information.
  • Monitor online conversations closely.
  • Know how to delete or inactivate accounts or tools.

Recommended Practice when using Social Media for teaching and learning

When selecting any technology tools for teaching and learning, check your learning outcomes and align these with your choice of technology, knowing what the students will be doing with the social media tools, why they will be doing it and what they will learn as a result will ensure you choose the correct tool for the job.

For more help with the choice or use of Social Media tools in your teaching, please contact the Centre for Learning and Teaching.

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