Examining the Benefits of Integrating Social Media into the Classroom

Examining the Benefits of Integrating Social Media into the Classroom

Elisha Wohleb (Auburn University, USA), Leane Skinner (Auburn University, USA) and Maria Martinez Witte (Auburn University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-6046-5.ch049
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Abstract

Technology is ever-changing in the society we live in. Social media is one of the most popular technologies used fervently among our youth. Educators must recognize the opportunity to utilize familiar resources to engage our students in the learning process. In addition, social media can enhance collaboration, communication, research, discussion, and critical thinking skills. Furthermore, social media can provide educators the opportunity to model and teach the importance of digital citizenship. This chapter supports the benefits of integrating social media into the classroom as well as provides information on how to overcome concerns associated with implementing social media.
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Background

Social media is defined by Bryer and Zavattaro (2011) as “technologies that facilitate social interaction, make possible collaboration, and enable deliberation across stakeholders. The technologies include blogs, wikis, media (audio, photo, video, text) sharing tools, networking platforms (including Facebook), and virtual worlds” (p. 327). Sistek-Chandler (2012) acknowledged that Web 2.0 technologies, social media, and social networking are often terminology used interchangeably in reference to the online exchanges within cyberspace. Many teenagers and young adults are referred to as digital natives and being in the Net Generation, meaning they were born into a technology driven society and are embedded with highly sophisticated technical skills and learning preferences, in which traditional education is unprepared (Bennett, Maton, & Kervin, 2008). Eshet (2004) defined digital literacy as “more than the mere ability to use software or operate a digital device; it includes a large variety of complex cognitive, motor, sociological, and emotional skills, which users need in order to function effectively in digital environments” (p. 93). Yuen, Yaoyuneyong, and Yuen (2011) conducted a study which resulted in the following findings: teachers are utilizing social media, specifically social networking sites and social video tools; teachers view social video, social networking, and podcasts as a positive technology resource; teachers have a positive perception of the importance of social media and the implications for pedagogical benefits for teaching and learning; and teachers express interest in participating in professional development to effectively integrate social media into the classroom.

The theories supporting social learning in the classroom range as early as Vygotsky’s theory of social constructivism to Siemens’ more modern theory of connectivism. Vygotsky theorized that cooperative learning was a fundamental part of the classroom. More specifically, Vygotsky (1978) explained the concept of the zone of proximal development, one of the core concepts within his model of social constructivism, as being “the distance between the actual development level as determined by independent problem solving and the level of potential development as determined through problem solving under adult guidance or in collaboration with more capable peers” (p. 86). The social constructivist classroom combines collaboration and social interaction among peers to create a deeper understanding of subject material.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Digital Literacy: The ability to electronically navigate, produce, create, and share information.

Social media: The ability to collaborate, communicate, discuss, and critically analyze information both synchronously and asynchronously.

Technology Integration: Incorporating electronic resources, including devices and media, into the classroom.

Web 2.0: A multitude of Web resources, most of which are free, that allow users to collaborate and interact with each other.

Digital Citizenship: The knowledge of appropriate technological use, including, but not limited to ethical practices and legal implications.

Cyber Bullying: The use of the electronic media to harass, embarrass, or intimidate individuals.

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