Posts Tagged ‘learning’

Gordon Snyder: Bringing Social Media to ATE and Education

Monday, November 16th, 2009

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One of the most innovative sessions at last month’s ATE Conference in Washington, D.C., was the discussion titled “Online Impact – Tapping Twitter, Facebook and Other Tools.” The moderator of that panel, Gordon F. Snyder, Jr. shared with us more information about how educators can bring social media into the classroom.

Gordon is the Director of the National Center for Information and Communications Technologies at Springfield Technical Community College in Massachusetts. (He’s also an ATETV advisor.) He also practices what he preaches on his blog and in his Twitter feed.  Gordon told us that, when it comes to social media, students are far ahead of their teachers. “The role of social networking in education will be huge in five years,” he says. “A lot of us older faculty don’t understand it, so we don’t use it.”

Another problem is that many schools block access to social media and disallow mobile devices in the classroom. “I think it’s being done to conserve bandwidth,” he says. “As younger digital natives move into faculty positions, this will change and the use will become mainstream.”

Gordon pointed us to marketing pro Rohit Bhargava’s Five Stages of Twitter Acceptance as a possible way forward for educational uses of social media. “I think you experience these five stages with any social media application,” Gordon says. “The first step is always trying something out, with subsequent steps being about learning how to use it.”

For Gordon, Twitter has changed the way that he interacts online. “A year ago I would read something and then write a blog about it – maybe 500 or 600 words. Today I read something and tweet it with a short description and a link to the original piece.”

He’s also seen some innovative uses of Twitter in classes and presentations, including the Twitter “backchannel”: a live stream of tweets from the audience, projected on a screen behind the presenter. “Backchannels can be very interesting, allowing attendees to maintain conversations while listening to the speaker,” he says. “It also gives attendees the opportunity to question the presenter in real time without interrupting the presentation.”

Gordon is also a big fan of YouTube, calling it “a wonderful classroom resource.” “You’ll find excellent content in most science, math, engineering and technology subjects there. You’ll also find the ATETV videos there!”

Gordon’s advice for educators looking to incorporate social media into the classroom is to separate the personal and the professional – but not to worry too much if their students blend the two a bit. “Students tend to be more personal and also a little more informal. This can be good but can also quickly lead to all kinds of problems if things get out of control. Most students are pretty good about knowing where the line is and not crossing over it.”

When it comes to social media in the classroom, there’s a lot that educators can learn from their students. The trick is learning how to listen.