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Social Media: An Integration Guideline for Teaching and Learning: Why social media for teaching and learning

Subject Guide

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Wei Zakharov
3053P WALC
Contact: Twitter Page

Get A Grip (Graduation Student Orientation)

What is social media

According to Purdue University Policy (Effective Feb 1st, 2013), Social media refers to “any online medium that allows a user to create and publish content (e.g., text, photos, video)”. This includes wikis, blogs, podcasts and third-party websites including, but not limited to, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Instagram and Google Plus.” ‚Äč

Why social media for teaching and learning

Social media, one of the hallmarks of early twenty-first century technological innovation, creates a number of open questions about the way people communicate, the speed of how ideas travel, and the future of internet-connected networks. Social media websites are redefining the limits of where one’s virtual “presence” coincides or sometimes conflicts with one’s “real” life. Beyond reshaping society’s norms and values, social media has tangible effects seen in everyday life, including the lives of today’s college students:

Do you use social media?

  • Technology in every facet of their daily life
    • Today’s students bring to class more than just a notebook and pencil. Many wield an assortment of electronic gadgets, such as smart phones, tablets, netbooks, and notebooks. The identities (shape, size, weight) and abilities (computing power, multi-tasking, etc.) of these types of devices change frequently.
    • Each type of device enables them to connect to powerful social media apps, such as Facebook, YouTube, Dropbox, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, and Linkedin. These websites go beyond being content delivery systems, they are powerful collaboration communities.
    • Students prefer information to be sent to their email and through text messaging much more than postal mail. Many use their camera phone exclusively for taking and sharing still photos and videos- from parties to evidence of an important event.


  • Technologically savvy or digital immigrant vs. digital native
    • Digital immigrants are not necessarily defined by socio-economic status, it may be purely caused by the environment in which an individual is raised and educated. More importantly, it is entirely up to the individual what technologies they wish to adapt to and others they avoid. Device wise, many students may still carry flip phones and/or keep a desktop computer in their dorm room. Application wise, students may not necessarily have a Facebook profile and/or ever tweeted anything. Technology adoption may rely on comfort and worth to the individual.
    • Digital natives are not necessarily based on their past socio-economic status, as devices and applications.


  • Overwhelming information
    • Researchers and professors know this subject quite well, but students may not be prepared for the wealth of information that hits them after high school. Depending on the educational background of a student, the amount of resources that they will be expected to engage with may be significantly larger than what was available in their K-12 experiences.
    • Specifically, social media communities are continuing to grow at a staggering rate. Facebook as of October 2012 had over one billion active users, which does not count the enormous array of pages and groups. While the variety may assist students with specific interests, the ability to use Facebook to focus on academics could be challenging for most students.


  • Expect immediate connectivity as well as access to resources and information
    • Because network connection speeds at Purdue can reach up to realtime speeds of 7Mbs or more, students can literally connect to whatever resource they need to very quickly.
    • Students enjoy robust, attractive, and easy to use interfaces. Very few students arrive at the university library to crack open a 50lb encyclopedia, instead you see a virtual information delivery service on their device’s screen.


  • Is it time for faculty to seize the opportunity to reach students through social media
    • Students tend to respect faculty who adapt to the new technologies and attempt to reach out their interest and choice of communication mediums.
    • More than for play, social media communities are increasingly becoming the home of prominent scientists, entrepreneurs and investors, literary authors, actors/actresses, the list goes on. The professional nature of communities, like Linkedin, enable students to better their chances of employment.
    • Using social media is now easier than ever before and most importantly, free.


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