#1 Why?

The first step in creating a learning activity with social media is to know your purpose, says Elaine Huber from UTS Science. ‘Is it to disseminate or curate content? Will you provide the feed of content or will your students? Do you want your students to share posts? Comment on current events? Connect with experts in your field?.’

#2 Set up a group on LinkedIn

Through a group you set up, your students can engage in professional networking and connect with people in relevant industries. ‘By building a network on LinkedIn… you’ll be opening doors which otherwise don’t exist in everyday student life.’ says UTS Careers’ Adrian Buck in his recent Futures post.

#3 LinkedIn assignment

Taking the above idea one step further, create an assignment or learning activity where ‘learners have to connect with professionals or experts in the field to learn more about a topic, or interview them and write a report or prepare a presentation based upon their findings.’ Source: 5 steps to use LinkedIn for social learning

#4 Hootsuite announcements

Try Amanda White’s time-saving trick of using Hootsuite to send news and announcements to students on Twitter, and the embed the Twitter feed under Announcements in UTSOnline.

Easy student communication using Hootsuite

#5 Social Media in Academia: A-Z

Get a quick overview of the changing social landscape with this handy A-Z of social media in academia, from Times Higher Education.

#6 Track a hashtag

Assign each group in your class a Twitter hashtag to follow related to your subject area, recommends Ed Tech Review. ‘At the end of a week, you can ask questions, ask them to make presentations from what all they learnt from all the information they have tracked with the assigned hashtag. This is a great way to add some engagement, teach them peer collaboration along with teaching.’ 

#7 Twitter Essay

Quite recently Twitter doubled its character limit from 140 to 280 characters per tweet. This means the time may be ripe to try out the type of assignment known imaginatively as the Twitter Essay (students write a super short essay using Twitter).

#8 Twitter debate

…or host a student debate on Twitter. Set up a hashtag and ask students to tweet in response to a question or provocation.

Twitter for Academics

#9 Reward participation

Setting up a class hashtag is probably the classic higher ed use of Twitter. But remember to ‘reward the students who are participating with attention. A daily pick of the top tweet, or a weekly top five, may be a real morale booster for certain students. Retweets are the currency of the Twitterverse, so use them liberally.’ (John Hawks weblog).

#10 Oh, snap!

Dipping your toe into Snapchat is probably not one for the faint of heart. But the instant messaging app has been employed successfully for learning in the higher ed context. Psychology academic Michael Britt has utilised it in several ways for its live and immediate benefits, including sending students daily snaps of psychological terms.

#11 DIY Video

Creating a video resource can be easier than you think. Think low-budget Blair Witch Project rather than overblown Avatar, according to UTS video guy Matt Vella. “Just pick up your smartphone and record yourself briefly explaining something. Boom! You’ve just created content. Now upload it to a platform like YouTube, Instagram or Facebook and you’ve just created a learning resource.”

#12 Soundcloud interviews

Soundcloud is more commonly thought of as a streaming platform for podcasts and audio, but actually its a self-proclaimed social network, too. Sussex University has several great ideas for using SoundCloud in teaching – for instance students ‘could use SoundCloud to record mock research interviews then give feedback to each other by adding comments to the recordings.’

#13 Instagram pop quiz

Times Higher Education ‘social media superstar of 2017’ Dr Vikas Shah posts Instagram stories with X-rays for his students to analyse as teaching material, and uses the polls feature on Instagram to create pop quizzes.

#14 Flickr stories

With terabyte of storage for each user for free, photo sharing network Flickr could be an alternative to Insta. TeachThought has lots of great learning activity ideas for Flickr, including ‘telling digital stories, capturing personally authentic events with images, saving project-based learning artifacts in a digital portfolio’.

#15 Create an infographic

Infographics are perfect for sharing on social media. Think about creating an infographic to summarise key information about a concept – or better yet, get your students to create one as a learning activity. Here is a tasty example infographic cooked up by the LX.lab’s Amanda Sampol and Phoebe Huang.

#16 Storify it

Storify used to be a great platform for getting students to curate information from different networks and weave together a story (see an example here). Storify is sadly about to shut down – always a risk with all free social platforms – but there are some alternatives.

#17 Exit tickets

Get students to post an ‘exit ticket’ on social to reflect on key learnings from the session – and give you some quick feedback about their level of engagement. (This is a similar concept to the techniques known as ‘muddiest point’ or Minute Papers).

#18 Community blogging

Read Ollie Coady’s post on a strategy for avoiding tumbleweed in class with community blogging. ‘Students are able to read each other’s blog posts, and gauge the level of understanding they themselves have on a topic before coming to class.’

#19 Subject-specific playlist

Video delivery platforms like Youtube and Lynda.com will let you curate a playlist specific to your subject that you can share with students. UTS Library can also let you know about lots of other multimedia resources at your disposal.

#20 Follow @UTSfutures

Shameless plug: follow @UTSfutures on Twitter for more tips, and tweets from UTS academics about learning, teaching and everything else.

#21 And in the words of Professor Bronwyn Hemsley…

‘Get whatever social media and media training you can.’

Check lx.uts.edu.au/events for social media sessions on offer.

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