Archive for June, 2011

School Implements Social Media Policy
June 30, 2011

What if you received a friend request from your teacher on Facebook? Would you accept or deny the request? Either decision you make may leave you feeling a little uncomfortable.  It is important for teachers to know where to draw the line and have an understanding of social media etiquette.

For most schools, social media sites have provided a positive interaction between teachers and students. Most teachers and students want to do the right thing; however, to protect schools from any legal repercussions, schools have developed social media policies. Providing teachers and students with a framework can make certain that a positive social media experience is possible.

Here are a few tips to make the implementation of the policy much easier and more effective:

  • Allow employees to participate in the drafting process- they will have the best idea of what should be in the policy.
  • Focus on what teachers and faculty can do and best practices for social networking rather than what they cannot do.
  • State that the policy applies to multi-media, social networking websites, blogs and wikis for both professional and personal use.
  • Remind teachers that Internet postings should not disclose any information that is confidential or proprietary to the school.

It is important to remember that the social media policy is a living document. It will need to be updated as technology changes and situations arise. It is also important to remember that social media tools can be an excellent learning tool to engage students to participate outside the classroom. These tools are not going away any time soon so a social media policy should be implemented to legally protect any damage that could hurt the school’s reputation.

“Following” Your Professor?
June 24, 2011

With over 5 million users, Twitter is the third largest social network.  Young adults (ages 18-24) are the most active users of status update services through social media. However, they seem to be the primary demographic missing from Twitter. Twitter, the micro-blogging site, is slowly trickling into the education system in hopes of bringing professors and students closer through a more impersonal setting.

Many professors are starting to experiment with Twitter as a teaching device.  Professors who teach in the public relations and communication field are finding that social media are key devices for the educational content.  These professors expect students to practice incorporating social media as a marketing strategy to use for future business clients. Thus, students who “follow” a professor’s tweets can look at additional information that complements the professor’s lecture. Students are also able to ask further questions not only about the lecture but about the industry.

Other faculty members are questioning the use of Twitter in an academic setting. Of  those who have never used Twitter, 68.8% question its educational relevance.  Many professors feel they have enough channels of communication to discuss academic information with students already.  These professors feel  like if they add Twitter to the combination, many students and themselves will  experience “technology overload”.

Instructional uses of Twitter as a “learning tool in the classroom” are less popular than other Twitter function. Whether the instructional use will gain popularity in the coming years does not seem promising.  Just over half of current Twitter users say they expect to increase their use of micro-blogging during the coming academic year. Most Twitter users say their use will remain the same.  Schools and professors will need to construct a plan of action to encourage student participation.  They should plan for challenges such as:

  • Keeping students focused on the topic
  • Learning how to write clear, concise tweets within the 140-character limit
  • Ensuring comments remain constructive and professional

Schools also need to remember a key concept, Twitter does not happen overnight.

Textbooks Turn Digital
June 22, 2011

The days of heading to the local campus bookstore to purchase the books needed for the semester are long gone. It seems that many of the print textbooks are being removed from the book shelves. Welcome to Textbook 2.0 or simply “education keeping up with the real world”.  Over the next five years, digital textbooks are predicted to surpass 18% of combined new textbook sales for the Higher Education market. This will increase the digital textbook revenues to more than $1 billion and also take some of the weight off students carrying heavy books to class.

Growth of sales will be influenced by pricing, availability of content, and increasing online learning.  Digital textbooks are cheaper, saving students up to 60% off the print editions.  There will be a greater availability of content as the long tail of textbooks is fulfilled. Within the coming years publishers plan to increase the availability of digital textbook titles.  Online courses will also to continue to grow over the next five years; publishers will produce more online books to be integrated with those courses.  The books will provide interactivity through tools such as online homework, quizzes, and exercises.  It will also allow teachers to create interactive applications for students; most teachers think this will strongly improve their course content.

A Pearson Foundation survey concluded that students using tablets overwhelmingly prefer digital textbooks over print.  It is expected that about 20% of college students will own a tablet or iPad by 2012.  By 2015, digital textbooks are expected to account for 25% of the textbook market share.

Universities are predicted to drive sales of digital textbooks by requiring the use of a table.  Higher education will see a dramatic increase in digital sales.  Elementary and high school markets will not be far behind as they are also in the process of adopting the digital textbook.

Will you considering purchasing a digital textbook?

Students’ Writing Assignments “Dumber”?
June 20, 2011

Social media makes our messages condensed. Twitter allows up to 140 characters; Facebook allows up to 420 characters.  Many would think this would create clearer messages.  Wrong.  Welcome to the world of grammatical, usage, and spelling errors.  Slang terms such as BTW (by the way) have suddenly become incorporated into student assignments- a major concern for teachers.

According to a recent Pew Internet & American Life survey, 85% of respondents use some form of electronic communication.  While much of the younger generation has become accustomed to the social media slang, the teachers cannot understand what the students are writing.  Teachers understand that text messaging is a large part of young people’s lives; however, this should not excuse the formal writing students are assigned. Many teachers believe there has been a decline in students’ writing abilities due to new media.

Even though teens are heavily embedded in the digital age, most do not believe that communication over the Internet or text messaging is writing.  Teens generally do not believe that social media negatively affects their writing.  However, many do acknowledge that some of the slang does occasionally slip into their assignments for school.  In particular, teen bloggers and social network users have a tendency to use shortcuts and emoticons in their school writing assignments.

Parents have a different view about the effect of social media on students’ writing.  They believe that computers have a positive influence on writing and even make some students better writers.  Reasons a computer makes a positive influence include revising and editing easily, presenting ideas clearly, and the opportunity for creativity. Other parents do not believe that social media has any effect on writing.

Some feel that this is simply an evolution of language while others feel that the social media “is dumbing down” the English language.  The future is unclear as more generations of students grow up in the age of social media.

Have you ever used a shortcut like LOL (laughing out loud) or an emoticon in a school assignment?