6 Alternative Social Media Tools for Teaching and Learning

6 Feb , 2015  

Move over Facebook and Twitter. There are alternative social media tools to use in the classroom. Leila Meyer, who writes for Campus Technology, has collected 6 social media tools and their uses for the hybrid and online classroom teachers. (click here for her complete article)

Diigo lets users bookmark Web pages from any browser or computer, and it saves them to their Diigo account in the cloud. It also allows people to annotate and highlight Web pages to assist with research. Pickett uses it in her personal and professional life: “When things come across my screen that I find interesting or relevant or informative, I bookmark them using Diigo and tag them. That way I can retrieve them easily and share them.”(see more) is an online content curation and publishing tool that lets people search for Web resources related to topics of interest, post them on their personal page along with a note, and then publish their scooped content to a blog or other online media.(see more)

Instagram is an online social network for sharing photos and videos. Sarah Smith-Robbins, director of learning technologies and a marketing instructor in the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University, uses Instagram with her digital and social media marketing class. “Instagram gives us an immediate way to bounce interesting marketing off of one another,” she said. When her students are out in their daily lives, they use their smartphones to take snapshots of online marketing strategies they encounter, such as QR codes, and post the photos to Instagram with a hashtag — the “#” symbol followed by a designated word or phrase — to share them with the class.  Students comment on each other’s posts and vote for the ones they like. Then, when they’re back in class, Smith-Robbins and the class discuss the marketing strategies they have discovered.(see more)

Pinterest is a social bookmarking tool for online images. “I think it’s a really powerful curation tool,” said Smith-Robbins. “It lets us pull together sources, inspiration, campaigns that we’re looking at or that students find interesting, in a visual way that is easy for them to browse.” Smith-Robbins’ students use Pinterest to contribute to a board for the course, so as they find things, they can pin them and comment on each other’s pins. ” I encourage them to comment in ways that tie those pins to the content of the course,” said Smith-Robbins. “I’m not evaluating that in any way, but I use it as a way to kind of prime the discussion.” (see more)

Feedly is an online feed aggregator for blogs and other sites that use RSS or Atom syndication. Feedly users can subscribe to feeds, and then receive updates to those blogs and sites on their Feedly news feed. Smith-Robbins has used Feedly, and the now-defunct Google Reader before it, for years to aggregate the updates from sites she follows personally. “I’ve always used RSS feeds from lots of different sources that post news about the industry, and I skim those every day to stay current,” she said. (see more)

VoiceThread lets people upload and share images, videos and documents and then have an online conversation about each other’s posts through audio, video or text comments. Alexandra Pickett, director of the Open SUNY Center for Online Teaching Excellence and an adjunct instructor at SUNY Albany, started using VoiceThread in 2006, primarily as an icebreaking activity in her online course. She introduces herself to her students through an informal video of herself at home with her daughter, so her students can get a full picture of who she is, professionally and personally. “One of the things that you want to do initially in an online course is to establish a sense of social presence among the participants in the course and with the students,” said Pickett. “And so I want to represent myself as a real person because that way they know that I’m real; I’m not a robot, I’m approachable, I am multidimensional.” She then invites her students to start a conversation about the importance of social presence in an online course.(see more)

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