By Chris Fulton, Centre for Teaching and Learning Enhancement
The three presenters, Prof. Xiaobo Zhai, Prof. Kan Kan Chan and Ms. Suki Leung shared ideas on how social media platforms could be used in the classroom in different ways.
A compelling reason for using a social media platform for teaching is that it is an efficient tool for communicating with students. Sending files and announcements using a WeChat group or Facebook group is simple and convenient, according to Prof. Zhai. However there were serious concerns that a few members of a group might post remarks or images which are not at all suitable for an academic context. Furthermore, any content posted on WeChat might never be securely deleted by a teacher or student.
In a mini-talk, Prof. Chan described how a teaching tool, Rain Classroom, can be used to engage and assess students in large classes. The Rain Classroom add-in can be used to send presentation files to students’ mobile phones via a WeChat app and PowerPoint. Prof. Chan found that a useful function of Rain Classroom allows teachers to conduct multiple-choice quizzes in a class, and the quiz results can be viewed and discussed in class. Furthermore, it was noted that data privacy might be of concern to some teachers and students.
An activity that used social media to promote interaction between English language learners was described by Ms. Leung. The activity made use of an Instagram account that enabled students to share findings from their project work. After a student has shared their project’s findings, other students would then provide comments, questions, and constructive feedback. The impact of the activity with Instagram will be known at the end of the semester. This presentation ended with an argument that teachers should use social media, not because it is convenient, but because in today’s world teachers have a responsibility to show students how to use social media for learning effectively, not just for consuming media.