Social Media for Online Learning


A recent article by Ruth Raynard,  Beyond Social Networking: Building Toward Learning Communities highlights  the ability for social media and social networks enhance online learning , geared towards students with a highly developed skills set  in the online arena.

My discussion here… introduces the idea that social networking is only the beginning of a longer and more complex process of socially constructed learning and ultimately collaboration and knowledge building. That is, if educators only integrate the ability of students to connect and socialize, deeper points of learning will be missed. (emphasis mine)

How can we improve learning spaces for our students by employing the best  of online collaboration?  By loosely modeling current ( and very  traditional) classroom structures in an  online  format ( such as an email listserve) ignores  many  benefits of learning in an online environment. Raynard’ article  supports  resources sharing between students:

While in more traditional learning environments much of this must be orchestrated and planned by the instructor and organized through the grouping and pairing of students, when using a social networking tool this level of connection can happen immediately.

Using social media to augment  collaborative learning  does require careful monitoring and guidance  by the instructor/teacher.  This guidance , as Raynard suggests,  will keep a course’s blog or wiki space from jumping the rails and becoming  a depository of  e-junk.   Also, the instructor must foster an e-environment  which promotes a student’s comfort  to  share their ideas publicly within the group.  This learner autonomy’ exists in all learning  environments,  including online.   In a  related article,  The 4Cs Social Media Framework, breaks down the levels of collaboration and community building that are standard  in many social media sources. The third C is community, or “the idea that social media facilitates sustained collaboration around a shared idea, over time and often across space.”  Similar to a successful online classroom? I wonder…….What is currently  missing in the professional writings  about social networking and online learning is a need to reevaluate the context of learning theory and education psychology to support  and/or deny the types of collaborative creation that occurs via social media tools.  How does this learning benefit students?  Compared to a more  traditional style of learning or as preferable to a more traditional online classroom, as we currently know  it to be.

citation from  D. Hooker,  who is an insightful librarian