The face of 21st century education | Part 1

It’s no secret higher education has been slow to embrace social media. Most adoption can be seen through recruitment and PR. Some universities are doing well at involving students, faculty and alumni in valuable dialogue, but who’s representing social media in the classroom?

I applaud professors and instructors who rise above the ‘that’s the way it has always been done’ mentality as well as businesses with a vision to improve educational norms. Here are just a few examples to kick off my series on 21st Century education and surprisingly, not all professors are of the GenY persuasion.

Tweeting in class

Think back to when you were a number. One person in a lecture hall of 300. Was it difficult to have your question answered among a sea of raised hands? Or where you a shy student and didn’t want the room’s attention focused on a question your ‘stupid’ question. These case studies demonstrate the benefits of encouraging social media in the classroom.

University of Texas professor, Monica Rankin took Twitter to the big screen. Her students created Twitter accounts and tweeted questions and observations that were then displayed on a large screen during class. Rakin reports this method increased participation from less involved students.

Professor Elaine Young’s students build professional networks through Twitter and assignments include offering business and marketing advice to local companies and helping them with social media campaigns.

Twitter not only increases in-class participation, it encourages students to write concisely, share resources, and follow instructor announcements. A study at Lock Haven University found Twitter can improve academic performance. A class can continue to discuss topics and learn from one another outside of the classroom.

Professor Lara Lomicka Anderson pairs her French Language students with French-speaking partners over the course of a year. Her class uses Twitter, Skype and Facebook to practise their French before travelling to France as part of the course. Social media makes intercontinental learning possible.

It would be remiss of me to leave out Studio by Purdue University. Purdue has produced a suite of digital tools designed to improve students’ university experience. Delivered though a smartphone, Facebook application or web browser, the tools connect students with their teacher and class.

Students don’t miss a beat with Mixable and can listen to audio recordings of classes through their smartphone or Facebook page thanks to Purdue’s BoilerCast lecture capture system. Hotseat is a mobile web app powered by Facebook, Twitter and text messaging. Students give real-time feedback and professors can use it to improve course content. Students can create video-based assignments with DoubleTake and instructors can easily assign and grade video projects through the app.

Hotseat in action

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LTT-MAftkCc&w=560&h=345]

Learning tools like those found in Studio by Purdue and professors such as Lara Lomicka Anderson are taking students’ academic success seriously. This is the future. By supporting inspiring examples like these, education will advance, universities will profit and students will receive added real world value from their programs.

“Celebrate what you want to see more of” – Tom Peters