If someone mentions social media to you, you probably think of talking to your friends on Facebook, or tweeting your favourite celebrity on Twitter. While social media is a great tool in today's world, it is frequently seen as a bit of fun, and possibly something to do while you're wasting time.
If you are thinking about combining social media and training, you may be a little wary of introducing something into your teaching which can be seen as a big distraction to people, but the truth is social media can be a great resource for you and your students if it is used correctly.
We've got some really easy ways you can integrate social media into your training and make use of this incredibly beneficial learning tool.
YouTube is a great way to give your students access to video resources without having to worry about providing them with a physical copy or arrange a screening so everyone can watch it at once. YouTube lets you to create playlists of any videos on their site, not just ones you have uploaded yourself. This means you can collect all the videos you feel are relevant to a particular class or topic, and provide your students with the link to the playlist, and they will be able to watch all videos you have added to it.
This also means you will be able to add or remove videos easily in the future if you change the content of your course, or just stumble across a great resource you wish you had included in the first place.
YouTube has a huge amount of educational resources including instructional videos for learning new skills and full documentaries on a large range of topics, so it's worth having a look to see if there is something there that could support your teaching.
YouTube also presents you with the opportunity to record your lectures and then upload them for your students to watch when they have the time. This is great if you're creating content for an eLearning course, are teaching distance learning students, or simply giving your students the chance to process the lectures in their own time. These videos will mean your class are able to watch your lectures as many times as they need to, pause it when they need to take notes, or rewind it when there is a particular part they are stuck on or didn't understand the first time around.
You may not want to upload all your lectures to YouTube, as they may be some you wish to give in person, or ones that simply work better in the classroom environment, but it's a great resource for your students to have, and will be very handy when it comes to revision time, as they can simply replay the lectures. You can also reuse this content for a number of classes if the lecture is still relevant without having to do any extra work.
Facebook is a great medium for catching up with old friends, but it's also a good way to facilitate a group discussion among your students. It's very easy to set up a group within Facebook, without even having to be friends with the people you're inviting (so don't worry about having to befriend students). These groups can used as a private forum for you and your students to discuss topics related to your class, share further resources, or arrange things like revision groups.
Having a group like this set up is good for a number of reasons. If you set it up yourself, it means you can keep a close eye on what your students are doing, and how they are getting on with the work you're setting them. It's an easy way for you to connect to all your students, as well as a great way for them to all talk to each other, even if they don't know each other outside of the classroom.
Facebook will easily let you to share things like videos, documents and photos for your whole group to see, as well as making it easy to split different areas of conversation into different threads, so it's easy to keep track of. It also means that your students can communicate at any time of the day, and aren't just confined to the time you're in a class together.
Keeping everything online like this also means that all your discussion are still available at a later date, so students are able to search back through topics that were touched on earlier, and still see the entire thread, which again is great when it comes to revision time.
Pinterest is an online pin-board which lets you to 'pin' images and videos to your own themed pin-boards so you can revisit them later. Much like YouTube, Pinterest is an excellent resource for compiling content for your class to look at, and even add to themselves if you want.
With Pinterest, you can make as many boards as you need, so you can theme each board around a specific topic or class, and then share the link with your class so they can view it. You can pin images and videos from website directly to your boards, meaning you can collect videos from lots of different video sharing sites, as well as things like diagrams and infographics which your students may find useful.
You can also use it to collect pieces of content, which your students can click through from your Pinterest board to read in full. Additionally, Pinterest let you change the permissions of each of your boards, meaning you can invite people to pin to a shared board. If you let all of your students pin to certain boards, it will mean the entire class can compile a collection of the resources they have found, so everyone can benefit from them.
Using Pinterest may also be a great idea for group work exercises, as you would be able to set up a separate board for each group, with the added ability to make it 'secret', so only the people who are able to pin to it are able to see its content. That way you can keep an eye on what all of the groups are up to, but they can still keep their work separate from the rest of the class.
These are all very simple ways of introducing social media into your teaching, but they can prove extremely useful to both you and the students you are teaching. Social media lets you share great resources with your class, as well as keep in touch with them and check up on their work quickly and easily, without being confined to the time you are in class together.
As it is something most people use in one way or another in their daily life, it should be fairly easy to introduce it into your teaching and see it work! Don't dismiss social media as something that is just for fun and a bit of a waste of time, as it could be a great way to interact with your students, as well as demonstrate new and fun ways to share information!