Social media gives students a reason to write

How can social media support students’ learning? We all know we should be looking at ways to engage students using real-world contexts – and goodness knows, social media is part of the background of our daily lives – but does using it as part of a communications programme actually have an effect?

I have been interested to find about a successful pilot course, run by Andrew Davis (from the Worst Kept Secret) with a group of students in a London school. The students were borderline C/D, and it is (unfortunately) typical in the UK to target those students who might achieve the ‘C’ and thus improve the school’s position in league table rankings.

This course, ‘Social Media Fundamentals’, resulted in raised student achievement (in terms of GCSE grades), increased student engagement, and motivation. It is now a model that is being used by the exam board edexcel, as they develop a new course, Digital Communication in English.

Why was the (four week!) pilot course so successful?

– It met the needs of the students, and the school. It was evidence-based, drawing on the students’ needs, and the course learning outcomes;

– It was ‘real world’ – real-world tools, involvement from outside businesses, authentic assessment contexts. Persuasive and creative writing was channelled through the use of social media tools.

–  You could also argue that focused mentoring of individual students will have affected the outcome, plus, perhaps, the feeling of being involved in something ‘special’ – and, dare I say  it, fun:-)

No matter. I think this illustrates quite powerfully that, be it social media or otherwise,  a context that is ‘real’ for students is incredibly powerful. And why wouldn’t you use today’s communication tools in a class exploring effective communication?

Image: jscreationzs via www.freedigitalphotos.net

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