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Dr. Tisha Shipley has been in education for 17 years. She has taught Pre-K, Kindergarten, Gifted and Talented 3rd-6th Grades, Dr. Shipley was an elementary principal, a cheer coach, and was on...
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Leveraging Social Media to Engage Your Adult Online Learners

As teachers, we are lifelong learners that want to be the best we can be.  In my opinion, we are always changing, learning and want to do what is right for the students we teach. I always tell my students that I am a mentor, guide, cheerleader and co-learner. As you approach another new course with students that are needing you to give them your all, what will you do to ensure that you are being innovative and show your students that teaching is your passion? How will you encourage and ensure that a reciprocal relationship is formed so that your students are successful? This article will challenge you to think differently and encourage you to teach and work outside the box when working with online learners.  Will you take the challenge?  How can we make teaching online just as effective as face-to-face learning?

Thinking Outside the Box

Think back to when you were in school. What is something innovative your teachers did?  What is something in your course room you are doing now, that is innovative? In 2019, 5.112 billion people have a cell phone and 3.484 billion people used some form of social media (Chaffey, 2019). With this type of statistic how can we not use social media to inform, engage, and even teach our students?  As you begin to use social media in your courses you will want to diversify just as you do with your students.  Make sure that you are using multiple avenues---there are so many out there to choose from, why not try more than one? This article will hopefully transform your thinking and encourage you to use social media to engage with your online learners.  I currently have 8 forms of professional social media that I use to share early childhood topics and ideas in my courses. 

Social Media Sites Must Stay Professional

A professional social media site you use to engage with your students must stay just that. If you have a personal page already, you should be able to create a new account and toggle back and forth so you don’t have to log back in each time. There are also ways to post to one account and ensure that it is also posted to other accounts you have at the same time, as to cut down on the amount of time you will need to spend posting.  Make sure you choose a professional username that students can find and remember.  Your username should also include what your content will be about. Share things that are engaging to your audience, collaborate and engage with others that share the same passions you do, and make sure you have that professional presence for your students. You will want to find your "tribe" of professionals that support, engage, and collaborate. 

What Are Some Social Media Sites You Can Choose From?

LinkedIn is a platform and online resume that shows who you are as a professional. It is a place for you to collaborate with other professionals, share your professional ideas and add resources. LinkedIn has over 500 million users and it grows each day (Gallant, 2019). LinkedIn allows students to get to know who you are professionally, what professional organizations you may belong to, and what your ideas and thoughts are on teaching and learning. It encourages them to sign up for an account and it can help them network with other professionals and even find a job.

A website might be the most popular way to house information, pictures, and ideas that a teacher could use.  I say popular, but it may be that it is an organizational tool for you to use. This tool allows your students to access one link where you house information for them that is broken down into pages by content in your courses or profession.

A website allows you to blog your ideas, create different pages, and share virtually anything you see fit.  The bottom line: A student could go to your website to find a host of information that you will update frequently about different topics, content and even resources that they will benefit from.

If you aren’t using Instagram to share your ideas you may want to think about it.  One billion people use Instagram each month (Todd, 2019).  I use my early childhood Instagram to share ideas for child care providers, parents, teachers, staff, and administrators.  Instagram allows you to share pictures that are inspiring, and in the comments, you can list the materials and directions on how to complete an activity.  

Twitter is one of the fastest news sources out there today. It is projected that in 2020 there will be 400 million users (Williams, 2018).  With Twitter, you find your “tribe”.  These are other professionals you want to interact with and follow. You will find professional topics, resources and ideas shared by these people which adds to your knowledge, and are valuable tools for your students.  With Twitter, you can tweet out ideas, ask questions, provide information to students and add resources that may help them with their content and assignments.

Pinterest is another form of social media that allows you to share creative ways to encourage your students with the content you teach. 250 Million users are on Pinterest every month (Cooper, 2019).  Students can find boards that you have created that are divided by topic so they can easily access the organized information that is needed. They can also make their own Pinterest page so that they can show their love of learning and share their professional boards. 

One of the more popular and older forms of social media is Facebook.  It has a user base of 1.74 billion (Noyes, 2019). This is a perfect example of why we must diversify our platforms and ensure that we are reaching all user types. Facebook started out in 2004, as a place to share about your life and keep in contact with others you may not see often.  Today it used for much more than that.  Scrolling through Facebook posts, you can learn so many different things, why not ensure that your students are seeing the topics and resources you are sharing. 

A Youtube Channel is a perfect place for you to house videos of announcements and or lectures on topics that you are teaching. This shows them you are real person, that you are dedicated, and that you want to share ideas and resources with them. You can also post videos that you find that may be beneficial resources as students complete assignments.  

A few others that have great traction that you may want to try out include:

In today’s online classroom, teachers must be on top of their game when it comes to keeping up with different forms of communication. They must be innovative and present.  Their visibility is everything when engaging and collaborating with students. At the beginning, I said I wanted to change your mindset and to challenge you.  Which of these challenges will you accept today?

 

References 

Chaffey, D. (2019). Global Social Media Research Summary 2019. = Retrieved from

https://www.smartinsights.com/social-media-marketing/social-media-strategy/new-global-social-media-research/

Cooper, P. (2019). 23 Pinterest Statistics That Matter to Marketers in 2019. Retrieved from 

 https://blog.hootsuite.com/pinterest-statistics-for-business/

Gallant, J. (2019). 48 Eye-Opening LinkedIn Statistics For B2B Marketers In 2019. Retrieved  from https://foundationinc.co/lab/b2b-marketing-linkedin-stats/

Noyes, D. (2019). The Top 20 Valuable Facebook Statistics – Updated May 2019. Retrieved from  https://zephoria.com/top-15-valuable-facebook-statistics/

Todd. (2019). Instagram User Statistics. Retrieved from https://blog.hootsuite.com/instagram-statistics/

William, S. (2018). 4 Ways to Use Twitter for Schools to Increase Engagement. Retrieved from

 https://www.campussuite.com/blog/4-ways-use-twitter-for-schools-increase-engagement