Full disclaimer: I do have a FaceBook page (that I check a couple times a year…) but beyond that I admit that I pretty much limit my web-based communication to email. I’ve never felt compelled to “tweet” anything (which for all I know is now so yesterday, anyway) or use whatever else may be the flavor of the day in the apps world.
This semester, though, one of my students on the first day of class asked if he could collect everyone’s cell phone number to set up a “Group Me” class chat. A bit reluctantly, I gave my cell phone number and waited to see what would happen.
Not surprisingly, I got a lot of “how u doin” and “boy Im tired” types of messages, ones that I just glanced at and hit Delete. But gradually I began to see a real purpose. One obvious use is as a place where a student can ask a general class-related question and I can answer right away, so that others don’t have to ask the same question. (While I was typing this, a student texted to ask if Moodle was down and I let her and others know that it was fine at Lincoln’s end, while another student suggested a workaround.)
Perhaps even more importantly, though, I think it’s a motivational tool. Early this morning I was getting ready to head to campus when one student texted, “Good morning, wonderful people.” A few class members chimed in with similar greetings. While I was too busy getting things together so I could get on the road to write anything, I drove to school musing about how nice it was to have students thinking positively about class and classmates first thing in the morning and thinking that it would be an interesting research project to see if class satisfaction and course completion/persistence correlate at all with that sort of casual media use.
Do any of you have examples of constructive use of social media, whether formally for instruction or informally? While I may be too old to use them, I’m still young enough to be curious!