Social media can play a solid role in the twenty-first century classroom. Like any other tool, these must be properly presented to the students and monitored to ensure academic interaction as well as to assure quality, and, from time-to-time, students will need guidance to redirect them back to the path.
At the beginning of any course in which social media will play a role, it is important to establish standards and expectations when the tool is introduced. This is best done in the course guide or syllabus, but should be reinforced with the student’s learning community and all stakeholders. Class discussions early in the process will help avoid any confusion concerning what is proper and improper use of social media in the course. Allowing students to discuss misconceptions will give everyone a better understanding of what should and should not be done.
As the students begin using their selected social media to share and interact, the instructor should monitor student interaction. The instructor’s role, here, is as a moderator, not a heavy hand. Ghosting is the best policy when it comes to monitoring student working with social media.
As issues arise, the instructor should bring attention to the problem in a general observation. Students should not be pointed out and care should be taken to make sure that student expression is not extinguished. Rather, students should be redirected, rewarded and rebuked. As students begin to go astray, the instructor should redirect students back to the topic. Those who make solid contributions should be praised, and those who are having trouble or fail to meet expectations – particularly in the arena of polity, should be corrected. Correction should be outside of the open view of other students except where such rebuke might be helpful in redirecting the whole class. In this case the rebuke should be drafted carefully so as to encourage every student toward the goal of better communication and adherence to the expectations of the class.
The clearer the instructor makes his expectations of individual students and the class as a whole, the more effective the use of social media will be in the scope of the material discussed.