Final Paper

Submitted By sarahhuber21
Words: 2240
Pages: 9

Sarah Huber
21 April 2014
English 2010
Elizabeth Benson
Utah State University
Hashtag Awesome Social media is becoming increasingly popular, especially among teenagers and young adults. In fact, a recent survey revealed that 95 percent of college students use Facebook and spend an average of 238 minutes per week on the site. The same survey reported that 53 percent of university faculty members found Facebook to be a “negative” distraction to their students. However, according to Harrisburg University Provost Eric Darr, “social media is here and we as educators have to acknowledge that” (Marklein). Rather than banning all forms of social media from their classrooms because of the opinion that it is a distraction, university professors should find ways to take advantage of this technological tool and incorporate it into their course material. If used effectively, educational social media activity in college classrooms can be beneficial because it boosts student engagement and has even been correlated with higher GPAs. Use of these technologies for educational purposes also yields many future advantages for students. Social media can take several different forms and serve many diverse purposes. The most popular domains include Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn, Flickr, Google+, and Blogspot. Educators must decide which sites will best enhance their course material and be most useful to both them and their students. For example, business students may benefit from the networking offered by LinkedIn while art students have the opportunity to share their work with classmates on Flickr. In this paper, I will focus mainly on the benefits of Twitter and Facebook because they are very general and can be used educationally for nearly every field of study. Twitter hashtags and Facebook pages can connect large groups of students and provide a forum for “inquiry-based approaches and collaboration” (Tess). As a result, students are “permitted to become more active participants in their own learning” (Lemoine 56). Dr. Lynne McNeill, a professor of folklore at Utah State University, uses a Facebook page to connect her students and includes several assignments over the course of the semester that require the use of the aforementioned Facebook page. She found that “social media use in [her] classroom seems to boost the engagement of [her] students. [Her] students immerse themselves more in the subject matter and spend more time thinking about material discussed in class.” One reason why this works is because most young adults are both comfortable and well-acquainted with social media. As Dr. McNeill points out, “students are constantly checking Facebook anyway, so when they are scrolling through their feed and a post from the classroom page pops up, their brains will automatically recall material learned in class that relates to that post. In addition, students are more likely to post in the Facebook page because if they find something interesting that ties in with topics discussed in class, it is convenient and cool to share. It’s a great way to keep students engaged in the learning process, even when they are outside the classroom. They get to learn not only from the professor, but from fellow classmates as well; each student benefits from the thoughts and opinions of another.” Facebook pages such as the one used by Dr. McNeill even give shy students who aren’t as comfortable with participating in a physical classroom the chance to offer their input and ask questions. In summary, social networking such as this provides an easily accessible platform for college students to collaborate with both professors and fellow classmates, engage in interactive discussion, post findings pertaining to course material, and ask questions. These factors promote active participation and help students to build peer relationships, which in turn increases course engagement (Tess). Hashtags serve a similar purpose in terms of