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Teachers embrace social media in class

Postmillennialism —  Leave a comment

As social media become nearly inescapable on college campuses, a pair of recently published studies supports what many professors already have concluded: Students using Facebook or text messaging during a lecture tend to do worse when quizzed later.

But wait: Faculty who build Twitter into classwork may be helping students learn better, a 2010 study suggests. And a survey of nearly 2,000 faculty last spring by education publisher Pearson found that many consider YouTube a “very valuable” classroom aid.

“The more research we do, the more we understand that it’s about nuances in how the technologies are used, not whether or not they’re used, that matters in the classroom,” says Lock Haven (Pa.) University professor Reynol Junco, one of a handful of researchers to study the topic and publish studies on the topic in journals such as Computers & Education and Journal of Computer-Assisted Learning. “You’d be shocked at how many people don’t get that.”

Faculty among them. Nearly two-thirds reported using at least one social media site in their class, but 53% said Facebook and 46% said Twitter add “negative” value, the Pearson study says. A survey last fall by Faculty Focus, a website about teaching, found that about 83% of professors allowed laptops in their classrooms; 58% said they found students using Facebook when they weren’t supposed to.

Some students acknowledge the distracting nature of their digital devices.

When Harrisburg University of Science and Technology in Pennsylvania blocked access to several popular social media sites for a week last semester as a consciousness-raising exercise, 25% of participating students reported having “better concentration in the classroom.” But many students also poured into an off-campus hotel lobby during breaks to plug in.

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