Social Media for Teaching and Learning

Nearly 8,000 professors were surveyed about their own social media habits, their use of social media as an instructional tool, and their perceptions about the way their students use social media. Pearson* and the Babson Survey Research Group conducted the survey, and Edudemic has posted the results and the infographic below.

Looking the results and thinking about my own experiences, I have a couple of questions.

First, I’d love to know more about how professors are using social media, not just which forms of social media are being used most frequently. In particular, I’m wondering about the intensity of use. Sure, Facebook can be a teaching tool if you accept friend requests from your students; but if you’re holding Facebook chat hours and supervising a class Facebook page where your students are also posting, well, then, you’re really using Facebook as a teaching tool.

As an aside, I’ll share that I recently ran into a professor who joined LinkedIn primarily to connect with alumni of her current institution. Her goal was to find participants for a career panel in order to demonstrate how her department’s major can lead to a variety of exciting careers. Social media: it’s not just for teaching, it’s also for mentoring.

Second, regarding students and social media, this survey hits on something that I’ve been mulling over lately: the tension between the benefit of having students write for a larger audience and the cost in terms of a loss of privacy for the students. It does strike me as reasonable that if we are asking students to wrestle with big ideas, we ought to also allow for the protections that privacy affords as students refine their thoughts. And yet, research demonstrates that writing for an audience beyond the classroom has clear advantages. I’m interested in hearing what others think about this issue.

(click to enlarge)

social media statistics - faculty us climbing, conerns about privacy remain.Source:

*While Pearson is the company behind LearningStudio (which we use here at TCU), there’s no larger connection between Pearson and this blog post.

Twitter in the Classroom

We’ve written about Twitter before, including some great getting-started resources. If you’d like to learn more about Twitter or read about some different academic uses for Twitter, our past posts on Twitter are a great place to start.

I had a bit of internet serendipity this morning when two blog posts discussing Twitter popped up right next each other in my RSS reader. After reading them, I started thinking about how easy it would be integrate the ideas in both posts to create really wonderful – and wonderfully archived – learning experiences. Continue reading

Presenting the new TCU Koehler Center Sites

As mentioned in our blog, last week, we have the new and improved TCU Koehler Center blog, the “Teaching Toolbox.”   Along with this new name and goals, we are unifying our department’s online presence.  We realize that name changing in social media is a little taboo, but we hope it won’t be too disruptive for the user experience and that you will benefit from our expanded coverage of teaching topics!

Why the change, y’all?

Our social media accounts had been set up just for the elearning side of the house, but the reality is that we are one team.  We are the Koehler Center.

As our mission statement says, “We support teaching and learning and help faculty implement meaningful learning opportunities for their students.”  We wanted to better represent ourselves as the Koehler Center, involved with fostering professional development, active learning, teaching strategies, and educational technology, among other great topics!

Out with the old…

All of this being said, we are trading in our old blog url, twitter name, and facebook URL, and moving to a new simple name for all.

Connect with us

Please bookmark, subscribe, like and follow to our new sites!  Click the icons below to connect with us.

Connect with the TCU Koehler Center


TCU Koehler Center Blog: Teaching Toolbox


Subscribe to the Koehler Center blog RSS feed

Facebook: TCU Koehler Center

Facebook: TCU Koehler Center (Please “Like” us!)

Twitter: Follow @KoehlerCenter

Follow @KoehlerCenter

Our best to you – –

The TCU Koehler Center team

Your Internet Costume

Happy Halloween! This Halloween post may not be as gory as last year’s Halloween blog post, but the issue of one’s internet identity (real, imagined, or embellished) seems like a good fit on a day of costumes and mischief.

First, check out On the Internet, I am a Ballerina, from the Texas Wesleyan Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning. I would like to take this moment to assure you that no matter what you find about me on the internet, in real life I am a ballerina. And a professional chef. And an award-winning undersea photographer. Kidding. Or not. Trick or treat, right? In all seriousness, the post above has some great tips and resources that you might share with your students to help them manage their digital identities – an increasingly important concern for those seeking employment or graduate school admission.

However, it’s not just about the students. I know a faculty member who had a prospective department Google his name, find his wedding registry from several years prior, skim the registry for the information the registrants had listed about themselves, click on the link to the bride’s travel blog, and then spend some time reading the blog. All’s well that ends well: the blog was fairly innocuous, the applicant did get a job offer from said department, and life has proceeded swimmingly. But the eerie part about the whole scenario? All this happened when the faculty member was in a heightened state of awareness about his digital identity and privacy. How about those of us a few years distant from the job market? I know I’m not as a vigilant as I once was. Or how about those of us who found our jobs years before this was such a concern? Perhaps it’s time to give the above link and embedded resources a peek. For a faculty-specific take on this, Notre Dame’s Kaneb Center has a great piece on your online persona as a faculty member. ProfHacker has also covered the subject of creating and maintaining a professional presence online.

If you’re a Twitter user, here is some specific insight on managing your academic Twitter identity.

If you’re a Facebook user, you might find this short independent video about Facebook and your internet identity interesting:

If you’re a believer in the whole the-best-defense-is-a-good-offense strategy, this is a nice summary of what you might want to put on your faculty website. If you’ve already set up a website, the suggestions can serve as a good checklist. In addition to helping you control your own digital identity, a good faculty website can help your students, colleagues, and interested community or media members learn about and contact you.

Regarding your students, here are some strategies to let your personality shine through in your course shells. Note that you don’t have to wear a costume or create an online personality out of thin air (“this year I want to be . . . Beowulf Professor!”). Rather, all you need to do is share the most engaging version of yourself. An easy way to get started with this is to include a sparkling instructor bio with a photograph or some audio / video footage of yourself. More specifically, the Koehler Center has some information, tips, and templates for creating instructor bios.

Now that we’ve gotten the essential pieces out of the way, I want to leave you with a little metaphysical candy treat. Below is a video from Alan Levine, the Vice President and Community Technology Officer of the New Media Consortium. The video is longer than most we share here, but it’s a great philosophical exploration of our online, offline, and in between identities – and the way we actively shape them and the way they are shaped for us. (Is this the process of being disembodied? Or unified? Who’s wearing the costume now?)

IFTTT: A Useful Web Aggregator

First, IFTTT stands for if-this-then-that. This is one of the bedrock formulations of both logical thought and computer programing. And how does one even say that? According to the IFTTT website, it’s pronounced like “lift” without the “L”.

Basically, IFTTT allows you to integrate actions across different websites. As the website explains, “recipes” (think of them like formulas or orders) are broken down into “triggers” (the precipitating action) and “results” (what will actually happen). You can either create your own recipes or use recipes from the larger IFTTT user community. These recipes are then sorted by channels, allowing you to quickly find recipes for interacting with popular websites. So, for example, you can find an IFTTT recipe stating “if I place a file in a designated folder in my Dropbox account, [then] email my friend,” “if I upload a picture to Facebook, [then] upload it to Flickr,” or “if I post a tweet, [then] save it as .txt in my Dropbox folder.”

You can find recipes for Blogger, Delicious, Dropbox, Evernote, Facebook, Facebook Pages, Google Reader, Storify, WordPress and YouTube, among many others. Some of the recipes repeat functions found in the websites themselves. I don’t see a need for an IFTTT recipe for “if I have an appointment, [then] text me” if you’re a Google calendar user since Google calendar already has that feature. However, some recipes seem very useful – if you’re using Twitter in the classroom this is one way to create an archive or re-tweet important items. Or, if your students are completing a group project, there some great file sharing and communications recipes that might facilitate cooperation.

IFTTT recipes don’t stop with websites – you can also find recipes related to phone calls and text messages. I’m a real fan of things like “if the forecast in my city changes to rain, [then] text me.”  I’m still waiting for the recipe that says “If it’s a day that ends in -y, [then] order a cupcake to be delivered to my office.” Alas.

If you’re like to read more about IFTTT, you can check out Inside Higher Ed or ProfHacker (The Chronicle of Higher Education).

Students, Technology, and Crunch Time

A recent study finds that:

[While] students are tech-savvy and have plenty of gizmos, they may not be as distracted by these technologies as some may think . . . Results showed that students take a “less is more” approach when exam pressure starts bearing down. Students use technology to help them study and to communicate with others, the report found. And students are using the library less for its traditional resources — books, journals, etc. — and more as a place to get away from the hectic world around them.

Interestingly, the researchers also found that “65 percent [of students interviewed] said they used social media sites, like Facebook and Twitter, to coordinate study sessions or group work.”

Social media isn’t just a coordination tool for students, it can also be a study tool: “nearly two-thirds of the respondents said they had used social media for coursework. One student said he was having trouble understanding concepts in his physics class, so he researched lessons on YouTube, which helped him catch up with the coursework.”

Have you noticed students leveraging social media for learning purposes in your courses?

Last, here’s hoping that – however the studying happened – this is a successful exam week for all parties!

100 Ways to Use Twitter in Education

Just getting started with Twitter? Comfortable with Twitter and ready to try something new? Either way, this list of 100 Ways to Use Twitter in Education will likely have something useful for you – there’s even a whole “classroom” section!