A Guide For Professors: Ways to Integrate Social Media & Tech into Your Courses

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When I first started as an adjunct professor in 2014, I immediately started thinking about ways to incorporate social media into my classes. I knew there’d be ways to use different platforms to not only create easy ways to share work and collaborate, but also, to expose students to how different platforms can be used professionally.

I’ve taught at a range of colleges and universities, including LIM College, School of Visual Arts, and Fashion Institute of Technology, and to a range of students, from freshmen to seniors to continuing ed students. Because my students and courses vary, I always encourage them to make the ways I incorporate social media and tech into the course and assignments work for them.

Here are some of the ways I’ve integrated social media into the classes I’ve taught:

Shared Pinterest boards

findspark-emily-pintrest-board

During my time teaching career and internship courses at LIM College, a fashion business school, I created a shared Pinterest board for each section and had students pin something at least once a week. I gave open guidelines in terms of what they could post, which resulted in boards that had everything from articles and job openings, to lookbook photos.

Facebook groups

To ensure consistent communication and create a space for students to share resources, I turned to Facebook groups for some of my classes. Most recently, I created one for the class I teach at FIT, Social Media Applications. I’ve pinned the link to the Google Doc syllabus to the top of the group and occasionally post reminders, such as links to the LinkedIn profiles of our guest speakers. The group is private.

Facebook live

My FIT class is small, but if even just one student is absent, I live stream the class on Facebook live. This is where having the Facebook Group for the class comes in handy; you can Facebook live privately into the group. This way, the students can participate virtually, or watch the recording at a later date.

Google Docs

For my social media class, my syllabus is a Google Doc. This allows me to add and adjust guest speakers and references. I also take attendance in a Google Spreadsheet.

Google forms

For classes that don’t require the use of platforms like Blackboard, Google Forms is a simple and efficient way to collect homework assignments. You can decide what information to collect, and you can easily see when it was submitted. I add the links to each Google Form within my syllabus.

Snapchat

Knowing Snapchat is a platform my students are most active on, for certain assignments, students can Snap their experience as a way to earn credit. Then I ask them to post the screenshots of the Snaps in our Facebook Group or email them to me.

Miscellaneous Platforms

For one assignment, students are required to test out five different social media sites they haven’t used before. I share a list for them to choose from, but also let them suggest platforms to me if there’s another they want to try. They also have an assignment where they need to become an expert in one platform, and use another to create a post explaining how to use it. This is a good example of being flexible with the students so they can really explore and use the assignments in a way that’s best for them. If they like to talk, they can use SoundCloud or Anchor. If they like taking videos, they can create something on YouTube or Vimeo. If they like writing, they can use Medium or LinkedIn. I want to be sure students have a knowledge of platforms beyond the obvious.

LinkedIn

I’ve had all of my students in any class and school I’ve taught at create a LinkedIn profile as an assignment. For my social media class, one assignment requires testing out different social media platforms they haven’t used yet, and then blogging about their experience using LinkedIn posts.

Wix.com

findspark-student-portfolio-example-wix-website

I want my students to know there’s no excuse for not having a personal website, which is why I teach Wix.com in all of my classes. Students are required to use it to make a portfolio for themselves or to just build a website or something that they need. I’ve had students use Wix to make a website for a band they help manage and a small business run by a family member. Beyond being incredibly easy to use, Wix is the best option to share with students because they have a “forever free” version. If students want to upgrade to get their name.com and a custom URL, Wix is also one of the cheapest platforms for that.

For those looking for relevant videos, shows, and clips to play around the topic of technology and social media, I recommend the series Black Mirror, the High Maintenance episode titled “Selfie,” and documentary Terms & Conditions May Apply.

You can also follow my teaching experience by searching the hashtag #ProfessorMiethner on Instagram and Twitter.

I’m always excited to discover knew ways to incorporate social media and tech into my classes. What have you seen, experienced, or used? Please share in the comments!


Looking to set your students up for workplace success? Want to get alumni hired at New York’s top companies? Eager to join a network of education professionals that want grads to succeed as much as you do? Become a FindSpark Educator! Sign up for free here: findspark.com/higher-ed

About the Author

Emily is Founder and CEO of FindSpark. Passionate about the power of social media and networking; Emily has spoken at numerous colleges, conferences, and events including The International Youth Leaders Assembly at The United Nations, SXSW Interactive, Internet Week, Mediabistro's Social Media Bootcamp, Time Inc, Columbia University, and New York University, among others. Emily is also an adjunct professor, teaching social media and career courses at multiple colleges. Learn more about having Emily speak at your next event and follow her on twitter @EmilyMiethner.

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