Faculty have been implementing social media platforms into their classrooms for years. A team of four COF faculty members, spanning diverse fields of study and institutions, collaborated to research specifically how social media integration impacted the quality of their students’ learning. Their research studied social media usage of students in six courses and assessed student learning through anonymous surveys, and is now available in the September issue of College Teaching “Digitally Inspired Thinking: Can Social Media Lead to Deep Learning in Higher Education?”
This team included Professor Karen Harvey Teeley, M.S., R.N., from Simmons College; Professor Lana Dvorkin Camiel, Pharm D., from MCPHS University; Gouri Banerjee PhD., Associate Professor Emeritus at Emmanuel College; and Deb Peretz, PhD., formerly of Wheelock College. The group initially met at a Summer Teaching Institute in 2010 as part of COF’s Teaching and Learning Collaborative led Dr. Suzanne Pasch and funded through a Davis Educational Foundation Grant. The faculty were part of a group representing the six COF institutions who worked with Dr. Pasch to develop an Effective College Teaching Certificate. During this time, they realized that they were all exploring the use of social media to deepen students’ learning in their courses. They also viewed their variety of disciplines and teaching styles as a helpful and interesting way to compare their results.
Students utilized Facebook, Twitter, VoiceThread, YouTube, and blogs, as platforms for discussion, sharing course-related news, reflection, and other collaboration. At the conclusion of the semester, the students were surveyed to evaluate their perception of how the social media tools impacted their learning. The researchers designed the survey to gather information on the student’s initial comfort with social media, their engagement with their studies, and assess how social media impacted three specific aspects of deep learning: Higher Order Learning, Integrative Learning, and Reflective Learning.
Results of the study indicate that social media supports deep learning both directly and indirectly, makes learning easier, promotes long-term retention of content, and fosters a more engaging and enjoyable learning environment. When ratings of Strongly Agree and Agree from the survey are combined, the percentage of students who agree that social media fostered Higher Order Learning ranged from 68–75%, Integrative Learning, 73–81%, Reflective Learning 60–81%.
“This project created a friendship that lasts,” says Peretz of the group. “It has influenced our teaching and scholarship. We learned a lot from the collaboration about different ways to use social media in our teaching.” These faculty continue to collaborate!