Canvas is a helpful interaction tool, but some teachers at Dixie State University are using social media as another way to connect with their students.
Forty-one percent of college professors used social media as an educational tool in 2013, according to USA Today.
Assistant communication professor Xi Cui said social media in the classroom acts as an information source and an interaction platform.
“Students can pull out information on class topics at anytime in a usually very interesting way,” Cui said. “As an interactive platform, students can interact with each other or interact with the instructor.”
Cui said he hasn’t officially implemented social media into his curriculum yet, but he still uses it for extra credit.
“My understanding is that students have different interests [and] different proficiencies,” Cui said. “I don’t want to make it part of the grade.”
Cui said there’s a lot of scholarly debate over which social media platform works best for education.
“Twitter, as a social media, is more on the broadcast side,” Cui said. “It’s an informational source, and it’s also a promotional platform. Facebook is more closed [with a] friend circle. It’s a social network, rather than a social media, so students can do more interactions in there.”
Cui said a possible goal of his is to integrate some topics of social media into his classes; however, he said he isn’t planning on making social media mandatory.
Facebook is a highly useful social media platform used by many professors, according to the Washington Post. Facebook promotes making announcements, having discussions and sharing resources between teachers and students.
Canvas also uses discussions and announcements to promote online teacher-student interaction at DSU.
Adjunct English instructor Dorothy Solomon said she primarily uses Canvas in her creative writing courses.
Canvas lets students receive feedback and get prepared for in-class workshops, Solomon said, and Canvas helps students form relationships with each other that extend beyond the classroom.
Solomon said Canvas is a great “information vehicle.”
“The students can keep track of what their assignments are,” Solomon said. “They can raise issues if they want to with their teachers. They can also check their grades to see if they’re accurate.”
Solomon said she won’t have students use social media as a grade for her classes; however, she is interested in teaching social media writing.
“One of the things that’s happening in our culture is that language is deteriorating,” Solomon said. “All the little acronyms in our language [create] kind of a breakdown. I’d like to see people use those vehicles [social media] effectively to strengthen their relationships, rather than substitute for them.”
Some teachers use neither Canvas nor social media platforms in their classroom.
English professor Brad Barry said he is comfortable with technology, but he won’t use it in the classroom.
“I’ve found with newer technologies, half of class time gets eaten up trying to figure out why devices aren’t working for a third of the students,” Barry said.
The cost for students to have the right technology is also a concern for Barry.
“Sometimes, in our zeal for technology in the classroom, we forget that some students can’t afford the technology,” Barry said. “For example, a smart phone survey app. If that becomes an integral part of my teaching, am I excluding students who can’t afford a smartphone?”
Mashable.com listed a few ways to help teachers sharpen their social media tool, such as letting students share their work online and requiring students to make a blog.