Social learning via social media platforms require specific considerations, as the purpose is to generate discussions around particular topics to enable learning.
In the beginning, social learning on a social media platform is not something that is going to happen immediately, so to keep your page active you must practice basic social media rules of engagement. Once your page is one that people return to, your engagement levels for the social learning outcomes will increase. Of course, it you are attached to a university like us, you can set homework tasks to direct students to engage in this way. The benefit of this practice has been discussed in our paper and attracts the quieter learner to ask questions and answer others more openly.
Whatever the purpose of your social learning needs, you do need to build a community on the social media platform first. Once this is going, the rest will fall into place. There is no time frame, some will take off quickly, others will need time. You will want to introduce the flavour of social learning from the outset – to “set the scene”.
Here are some tips to get you started:
You will need a mixture of people, along with your own broad open mind to get the students engaged in conversation. A mix of others from the general community, and a group who would be considered topic experts, like lecturers or industry representatives will help the conversation travel, deepen and broaden. Be aware of responses to ensure they remain respectful only and calm down those with too high opinion or creeping on negativity.
The purpose for social learning is to learn. But considering social media strategies, your average reader will fatigue if that’s all you do. As with everything, they need social down time. So, this translates into posting types that embrace learning, along with others that relax or inspire. Your readers want to enjoy your page, not consider it a burden.
For the Unearthing Facebook, we often break up the day with fun quick games, like “finish this word” or “caption this picture”. It’s a way to keep the brain thinking creatively, while remaining fun.
For the Unearthing Instagram, we often ask readers to share their own work using a specific Hashtag (hashtags are explained later in this article). It is a way for our readers to promote themselves.
Consider when your students or learners are online. Be there. There is no point in posting a question or discussion at a time when it will float through the news feed unnoticed. Many of our students don’t start talking until late at night and this needs to be built into the overall plan for engagement.
A picture says a thousand words… so what do the images that you share say to your readers? And what are they teaching? The key to presenting images is to keep them within the context and subject of the learning’s that you wish to share.
Black and white images versus colour images are a good strategy for segmenting information. Students will begin to learn from the consistency of the postings what attracts them, what they read and what they respond to.
Related article: Black and White; the Calm in the Clutter
Of course, don’t forget and consider the actual colour as well. Use colour meanings for visual impact to match your words and statements. For example blue images could be used to strengthen an argument or opinion you are wanting to push, red images could be for a bold statements and yellow could be used for the relaxed weekend postings (simple examples only). Of course not all images contain one colour – but a colour philosophy in your strategy should be considered.
Mix it up. Always consider latest news items, trends and sayings or opinions as something that you can share from your industry; regardless of your own opinion. Inspiring a broader knowledge on a particular subject – even if the student is only reading – is social learning. The benefit of social learning is that it can open up and broaden the minds of everyone involved in quite amazing ways. Share the item respectfully and let the discussion flow. Not all research items may be discussed but certainly encourage readings.
We’ve said before, #hashtags are used everywhere. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, and many other social sites use hashtags to create instant connections with other users through these words. Some words are simple and make sense ie #unearthing, while others have grown and started their own following and popularity, such as #foodporn and #cloudporn on Instagram. Hashtags are also used to crowd-source information, create excitement, inspire conversations, and share knowledge and resources to a broader audience. So, when we consider an online strategy for example, we think about how the hashtag will serve or help, and, what the intention is.
We like boring lecturers. Said no student ever. Be true to your personality and professionalism but have fun with it. No student expects their lecturers to be formal in a social media setting. That said, respect is still a must.
And most of all, Enjoy!
To read more about our social learning work, check our paper:
“Enhancing Creative Thinking Abilities through the use of Social Media” International Conference on Knowledge, Innovation and Enterprise London, United Kingdom, 10-13 September 2013. Publication; International Journal of knowledge, Innovation and Entrepreneurship (IJKIE). Co-Authors Ron Corso & Charlie-Helen Robinson (2013)