The Effects of Social Media on Education Today-Reflections on the Web Conference

Reflections on the Web Conference

Out of all of the assignments in PIDP 3100, the trends and roles blog assignment was the one I approached with the most trepidation for a couple of reasons.  Initially, I was nervous about creating a blog, as I had never done so before now, and the steep learning curve and figuring out the technical aspects of developing a blog were a bit overwhelming at first.  Additionally, I have always considered myself to be an introverted person, finding it difficult to share my thoughts and feelings with those I don’t know for a fear of being judged; blogging shares your thoughts with virtually the whole world so this assignment was not one I was especially looking forward to.  I find it a bit ironic that I ended up becoming an adult educator, who has class sizes with 30+ students at times, because even to this day I have moments of nervousness before each class I teach.

Ted, my learning partner for this assignment, first contacted me via email and we planned our initial Skype call for a few weeks later, as we both had a lot of commitments in the coming weeks.  I was nervous going into the first Skype call but as Ted and I started talking I realized that Ted was very laid back and was feeling much like myself so it helped me to relax.  We both shared with each other our worries about having to create a blog for this assignment, as neither one of us had ever created a blog before and weren’t sure what to expect.  We briefly discussed how the course was going for each of us so far.  Ted and I wrapped up our Skype call after both deciding that we wanted to research how social media is becoming incorporated into education today.  We both felt that this was a good topic to cover since the use of social media is becoming prominent in education today, yet neither of us had really adopted it into our practice yet.

I dove into this assignment after finishing the initial Skype call with Ted, immediately getting to work on exploring how to create a blog and successfully got mine set up that very evening.  Then came, what seemed to be, the never-ending research.  The more I researched, the more I came to learn regarding the multitude of ways social media can be used in higher education: I was quite astonished by it all.  I kept searching for the perfect articles to use as my two references for this assignment.  After spending countless hours reading article after article, I finally came to the conclusion that I would never find just two articles that highlighted everything I had come to learn.  It was then that I decided, why limit myself to just two articles and waste all of that time and energy I had used searching for and reading the multitude of other articles?  After all, sometimes more really is better…….

Being that I haven`t been in school since I graduated from university over 10 years ago, I was a little worried about taking an online course.  This being a self-paced online course I thought that I would be able to work through it at my own pace and complete assignments as I had time.  Things were going along great and I was getting my readings and assignments done in a timely manner and then life threw a curve ball at me.  I went through a few week period where I really struggled to find a good balance between work, school, and my personal home life.  I eventually realized that if I didn`t create a schedule and diligently stick to it that I was not going to have the happy balance that I was striving for.

Ted and I had some difficulties scheduling our final web conference due to his very busy work and school schedule currently.  We were finally able to get the final Skype call scheduled and completed.  I found this final session together the most beneficial of all.  Not only did Ted and I get the assignment completed but we were able to share a lot of great insights we have gained from this course.  The call also helped us to build a stronger bond as peers and allowed us to collaborate with each other.  I hope to continue keeping in touch with Ted throughout our time in the PIDP, it`s nice to have someone else to bounce ideas off of or to seek assistance from if need.  Ted is the only person I really had any contact with, other than the instructor, throughout this PIDP course and looking back I wish I would have sought out others in the course through the coffee shop, SIE facebook page, etc.  There is definitely something to be said for having peer learners to collaborate with, that is something I definitely missed out on during this course.  Missing out on these connections has showed me how important having a community of learners around you to connect with is and I will definitely be striving to put myself out there more to meet others in my upcoming PIDP courses.

At the beginning of our final Skype call we discussed the fact that Ted is currently in Vancouver taking another PIDP course and he was able to share with me some insights into the structure of the whole program.  He has found the face-2-face classes to be a lot more straight forward and beneficial.  The part he has enjoyed most about the face-2-face courses he has taken is the community of learners that are present.  He spoke about the ability to collaborate with peers in order to solve problems, work through assignments, and get one-on-one assistance from the instructors as necessary.  I had previously planned on doing the majority of my PIDP courses online, due to the fact that I live in a fairly remote city in northern B.C.  After discussing all the advantages that Ted felt the face-to-face sessions offered and the fact that I felt somewhat isolated during this online course, I have reconsidered my previous plan and am currently looking into which courses I may be able to take in person.  After we finished discussing Ted`s current courses and all the great new insights he had we got down to our teaching session.

I went first and discussed how educators roles have changed do to the use of social media in classrooms and how educators of today play so many more roles then they ever had to in the past.  Ted agreed and went on to explain that he has even felt his role changing recently with his adoption of some social media platforms in courses he is currently teaching.

I discussed what I had researched about the emerging trends of social media in higher education.  I then went on to talk about which social media platforms I plan to incorporate into my upcoming courses and how I felt I would best be able to engage the students with each of the platforms. (For further information on the specific platforms I plan to incorporate and information on how I plan to use them please read my post `The Effects of Social Media on Education Today: Trends`.

Ted then discussed his research article on the emerging trends of social media use in education.  He then went on to explain how he is already incorporating the use of Twitter into some of his teachings and has already seen the benefits of it use.  Students that he has taught in motocross classes are now taking an interest in other topics he is tweeting about for other courses he teaches.  Ted shared his feelings regarding the use of  Twitter for education and feels it is a great platform to use to engage your students.  He also shared with me that it was a very easy platform to get started on.

I had previously thought that Twitter was not a platform that would be beneficial in my courses but after Ted shared with me all the interesting things he was doing with Twitter I have come to realize how beneficial of a platform it could be.  Through my discussion with Ted, I came to realize that Twitter may be a great form of social media for me to use.  I teach a variety of health science and nursing courses, from health care assistant to health administration to practical nursing.  Since all the course I teach are health related in nature, the use of Twitter would allow any interested students to follow topics I am currently teaching in other courses.  This could be very beneficial to my students who may be interested in furthering their studies in any other health related fields.  I will definitely be looking into the use of Twitter more and may just start incorporating the use of it in my upcoming courses this coming semester.

Another platform that Ted has only started using but is thoroughly enjoying, is Mooly.  He has used it for creating interactive power points that allow you to add the pages as you are going through the presentation.  Ted feels this is beneficial to the students because they are not being overwhelmed with a page full of information right from that start of the presentation.  He also feels it allows the students to offer their insights during class and have their own ideas added directly to the presentation.  I personally like to use power points for certain aspects in my courses so this is definitely a platform I plan to explore more in the future.

My one `take away` from this web conference is that, no matter how much research you perform on your own your peers can always offer some great insights into things you may not have discovered.  Ted has shown me how beneficial the collaboration with others can be and has given me some great tips and advice I will be using in the future.

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