Yet Another Advantage of Social Media Networking

By Lillian Williams

What are best practices for utilizing social networking sites in your teaching?

Dr. Lillian Williams, associate professor at Columbia College Chicago, and author of the blog, E-Learning (A Digital Education Forum)

Dr. Lillian Williams, associate professor at Columbia College Chicago, and author of the blog, E-Learning (A Digital Education Forum)

Among suggestions found in this  Facebook Guide for Teachers are the following:

  • First, determine whether your school has a social networking policy for teaching/learning purposes. If so, review those guidelines.
  • Consider the creation of a special networking page for your classroom. (Avoid using your personal networking site for classroom activities.)  That classroom-only page could be used to post information and links, as well as to invite conversation.
  • Develop a set of classroom guidelines about acceptable social behaviors on the site. In other words, set rules for the site.

Besides course activities, I’ve found another valuable usage for social networking sites: connection to school alumni.

Each morning when I open my Facebook page, I get updates from former students who send pictures and information about their professional and social lives.

Take a look at this picture sent through Facebook (and also posted on Instagram) by Lourdes Vazquez, a former student who shared a front-page news article that she wrote.  A graduate of Columbia College Chicago where I teach, she works as a reporter in the Dallas, Texas, media market.

#DallasISD ending adult education program #GED #ESL #Citizenship in today's @dallasnews

A post shared by Lourdes Vazquez (@luluchinews) on

I’ve seen wedding photos; baby announcements; law school graduation notices; job change alerts, and myriad other status updates from former students.  It’s a pleasure to read these posts. But the posts also provide valuable tips for my current teaching/learning approaches.

These social updates reflect trends in the professional industry.  They reflect the latest values and competencies necessary to perform in the professional sphere.  They share real-time employment opportunities (or lack of them) in various industries. To a limited extent, they act as a “satisfaction” measure for various jobs.

In short, these social networking conversations offer valuable insight to teachers, in ways far beyond classroom-related activities.

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