Teaching Handbook

Social Media

"Social Networking sites are important for faculty to be aware of because this is something that dominates a significant portion of our students' lives." -Khalil Marrar, Political Science Professor, DePaul University1

What is social media?

"Social media are web-based communication tools that enable peole to interact with each other by sharing and consuming information ... Social media doesn't just give you information, but interacts with you while giving you that information. This interaction can be as simple as sking for your comments or letting you vote on an article, or it can be as complex as recommending [content] to you based on the ratings of other people with similar interests [or your own history with the media]." --Daniel Nations, AboutTech2

How is it used in education?

Increase student engagement outside the classroom. Posting to Twitter or creating Facebook groups allows both faculty and students to post ideas, web resources, and files of interest and then discuss or react to those posts in a way that mimics their everyday social interactions, making engagement with classmates more accessible, more like connecting with friends. Events can be created as well to remind students of important deadlines or exams and enabling students to receive notifications and reminders about those events just like they would a social gathering.3

Increase student engagement inside the classroom. Aside from the community-building benefit of students connecting with each other through social media outside the classroom, these technologies can facilitate more active learning within the classroom as well. Students can use Twitter before or during letures to pose questions, offer examples, or reflect on the lecture material to keep them interested and motivated.4

Bring people and locations from around the globe into the classroom. Video chat applications, like Skype allow you to "visit" places that would be unfeasible to travel to and discuss ideas with people who could not otherwise come to the classroom.

Facilitate collaborative learning. Use wikis to allow students wo work together to create or edit content and showcase their learning. Encourage students to use Facebook groups to discuss ideas or plan study groups.

Encourage feedback from students. They may be more likely to open up about what is worrying them and ask questions over social media platforms they are comfortable and familiar with than in a classroom or even over e-mail.

What are some resources?

WWU Resources

See also: Evaluation of Learning pages such as Wikis, Blogs, and ePortfolios.


1. Social Media and the Classroom, Kahlil Marrar and Eric Landahl, DePaul University. A short video about the merits of social media in the class, and how it is used by students.

2. What is Social Media? Explaining the Big Trend, Daniel Nations, AboutTech on WebTrends Blog.

3. They're all on Facebook; now what? Engaging Students through Social Media, CIIA, Western Washington University.

4. Tweeting for Class: Using Social Media to Enable Student Co-Construction of Lectures, Daniela Retelny (Stanford University), Jeremy Birnholtz (Cornell University), and Jeffrey Hancock (Cornell University), interactive poster presentation at the 2012 ACM Converence on Computer Supported Cooperative Work.

5. Digital Story, The K. Patricia Cross Academy, Students use computer-based tools, such as video, audio, graphics, and web publishing, to tell personal or academic stories about life experiences relevant to course themes.