Building the ‘Connection’ Between the Student, their Peers and the Lecturer: How Social Media can Enhance Student Engagement and Afford Informal Learning Opportunities
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One of the key objectives of the Pedagogy for Employability strand of the University of South Wales (USW) Student Experience Plan , is the creation of ‘transformational learning and social bridges’ which build ‘rounded self-aware students who are continually reflecting upon and refining their personal approach to their own learning within the context of a learning community’. In September 2017, the Centre for Excellence in Learning & Teaching recruited a graduate intern to carry out a study to investigate staff and student digital literacy levels and the use of technology for learning and teaching across the institution. Staff and student surveys were carried out to understand the attitudes to technology, with follow up focus groups and interviews to gain deeper understanding of the technologies being used. Staff from a range of subject disciplines participated including Business Management, Biology and Primary Studies and students from across the institution took part in the JISC Digital Experience Tracker, a UK wide project designed to benchmark students’ use of technology in both Higher Education (HE) and Further Education (FE). For centuries, formal teaching methods adopted at universities have been based on lectures and individual learning and often characterized by heavily structured teaching approaches. In the traditional HE environment, building a rapport between students and lecturers is essential to learning yet often quite a difficult thing to manage given the large scale of classes. In recent years, however, the use of technology to enhance learning and teaching has become increasingly popular. The widespread availability of new tools, technologies and devices means that learners are now able to interact with and reflect on learning content in new ways. Findings of this study indicate that students are using social media as a tool to reflect and collaborate with both their peers and their lecturers in an informal manner and comment favourably on the opportunity to build relationships and reflect on their learning. Feedback from staff is similarly positive with comments focusing on how social media tools enhance engagement, and facilitate independent learning through experimentation, curiosity and creativity. The presentation will draw on how students use technology informally to reflect on their own learning, in particular their use of social media. It will be of interest to anyone concerned how technology can enhance student engagement and create informal learning opportunities; it will also be of interest to staff involved in providing staff development and support for how technology can be used as a tool for reflection and dialogue.
Meace, S., Naamani. C. and Carroll, F. (2018) Building the ‘Connection’ Between the Student, their Peers and the Lecturer: How Social Media can Enhance Student Engagement and Afford Informal Learning Opportunities in EDULEARN18 Proceedings. Parma, Spain July 2nd-4th 2018.
Author original reproduced here with permission of publisher - full published version can be accessed from https://doi.org/10.21125/edulearn.2018.1135
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