E-Learning Tool of the Month: Lessons in social media


Image: Social Media for Education Platform

Social media can provide powerful opportunities to connect with and engage students, but making the most of the right platforms, appropriate for your style of teaching, takes a lot of planning and structure.


For teachers looking for a launching pad, the Somecat project (Social Media as a Catalyser for Cross National Learning) has experimented with social media in learning for you. From their research, the team has created the Social Media for Education platform, a (free) virtual marketplace for education resources – our E-Learning Tool of the Month.


There is a lot of talk about leveraging social media to engage students but, according to the Somecat project team, which is made up of participants from four countries: ZHAW Zurich University of Applied Science (Switzerland); Ankara University, Department of Informatics (Turkey); Perm State University (Russia) and nexus Institute for Cooperation Management and Interdisciplinary Research (Germany), not enough knowledge has been shared about how it is best utilised.


“Researching the potential and practice of social media for learning, teaching and researching is receiving increased attention but is still an emerging area of research[…] Given that social media use is a reality for most young people across the globe, its lack of usage in higher education is still striking,” Somecat states on its website.


Somecat has used quantitative and qualitative analysis; analysis of (server) log files and network analysis; interviews and focus groups; online surveys and cross-country comparisons to answer the following questions:


–          To what extent is and can social media be used for teaching, learning and research?

–          How do diaspora groups use social media? If so, for what purposes?



From this strategic research the team has developed the Social Media for Education Platform, which provides recommendations and guidelines tailored to specific learning goals.


How the platform works


You start by completing a questionnaire about teaching methods, goals and assessments. Next, using an algorithm based on pedagogical principles and instructional design theory, a list of social media platforms are suggested.


You are then provided with guidelines on how to apply appropriate social media activities specific to the identified needs; for example, posting a video link to Tumblr which states the topic of the next class, so students can gain a basic understanding of the theme of the upcoming lesson.


At this stage the only remuneration the team behind the Social Media for Education initiative asks for is feedback on the impact the activities had on your students’ learning.


You can learn more about the project at ONLINE EDUCA BERLIN 2014.

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