Social Media Learning; Reflections


Author: Charlie-Helen Robinson
Draft thoughts.

 

Social learning theory is a perspective that people learn within a social context and this theory, made famous by Albert Bandura, says that social behaviour (any type of behaviour that we display socially) is learned primarily by observing and imitating the actions of others.

It also states that social learning theory serves as a means of improving academic outcomes for students. Since some elements of lessons and techniques are not always apparent to students, it is important to help students understand what an unfamiliar practice actually consists of, and what the rationale for learning it is. Edelson & Reiser (2006). Making authentic practices available to learners. Handbook of the Learning Sciences. p. 350

Now, all that’s well and good, but there are many different learning styles found within one classroom, whether it be formally or informally.

Students generally already know what type of learner they are because someone has told them, or they figured it out for themselves; so combining traditional (formal) lecture methods with a social learning environment (informal), enhances the student experience and this has been discussed in the paper “Enhancing Creative Thinking Abilities through the use of Social Media” written for the International Conference on Knowledge, Innovation and Enterprise London, United Kingdom’s publication “International Journal of knowledge, Innovation and Entrepreneurship (IJKIE)” co-written by Ron Corso and Charlie-Helen Robinson.

If we look at Bandura’s social learning model, he includes the steps of attention, retention, reproduction and motivation as the key elements to determine if learning has been successful. Within the educational context, and in our case, the social media learning space, the provision of these key elements make it easier to establish strategies for online content and student engagement. Therefore, we will look at these elements individually and provide insight.

 

Attention

Visual communications come into their own within the social media environment. They are the conveyance of ideas and information in forms that can be read or looked at. So, it’s true that higher engagement is received for posts, in a social learning context, that have a visual element. Our stance is that if we grab the student’s attention visually, they will engage quicker, paying fuller attention to the message that needs to be received. This has been proven time and again simply through the page insights (statistics) and also simply through the amount of “likes” and comments a single post or request may receive.

The strategies we have developed for page engagement is to share curious and interesting ideas, quotes and designs that are visually attractive or inspiring.

For class work, we reverse the strategy and have the students share their work in the form of photographs or illustrations. Class topics are used to generate the need to produce a form of digital image (ie deconstruction; the mug exercise). This combination of external content sources, coupled with student work, reinforces the true community spirit of the page.

We also take progressive photographs of classes and while these images are more artistic in their presentation, being sure not to depict a single student too overtly, the students enjoy being part of the history of the page.

Retention

In this environment, messages reach a broader group of people who like, share, or comment on posts. This then creates an instant learning environment that reaches a broader community for engagement, essentially taking the classroom to the world for mentoring, knowledge and contribution.

With social media’s quite transparent interface, acknowledgement and, or comments and discussions generated from others does create excitement for the students.

Reproduction

Idea generation classroom topics are focused on the process of just that; generating ideas. And so reproducing this is achieved by essentially performing this action over and over with a variety of methods and processes using different topics. Mimicking this in the social media space can be more challenging as it is a conversational tool for support, however, what has evolved are some definite areas that can be explored through questioning and the generation of conversation to achieve a good result.

When we look at the generation of ideas, we typically ask students to examine the bigger picture and aspects of their issue. From this initial analysis, what we can do is help them understand that bigger picture better from a variety of view points, to them help them establish the core of the issue or question they wish to generate from. Continuing this process throughout the life span of the project further embeds and evolves the thinking of the student.

Motivation

Using the social media platform, the Unearthing Ideas Facebook Page, provides an existing network or community of people, on a platform where a vast majority of students already have easy access and a good working knowledge of how to use. Many students enjoy this environment, simply for its  friendly inspirational nature, which in turn motivates them to be more engaged.

The solution is a win win for the students who enjoy this type of interaction.

 

Note: It is acknowledged that since the introduction of the Facebook Page in 2010, Google+ has also risen to the fore. MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) has recently selected this as their preferred platform for student engagement and Google+’s service offering seems more advanced, with video conferencing, document shares and other such items, however the basis for the Facebook selection remains superior; ie that the student body is already aligned, in the
overwhelming majority, with Facebook.

Additional Reference Source:
What is Social Learning Theory?

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2 Comments

  1. Charlie Universities are increasingly embracing different models of learning and teaching including social media. They are also embracing Design Thinking and creativity across disciplines so I guess we are ahead of the game on both counts through our teaching and our site Unearthing Ideas.

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