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On Facebook…for study
Though often viewed as a platform for sending memes, joking with friends and organising events, social media can be used as an effective teaching tool and to increase student participation outside of the confines of the traditional classroom.
Staff at the Melbourne Graduate School of Education (MGSE) use Facebook and Twitter to engage with students who are enrolled in their ‘inclusion’ degrees, which focus on special education, autism, early intervention, language, hearing impairment and inclusion.
Special Education, Inclusion and Early Intervention lecturer Guy Logan says their Facebook page was created in 2011 in response to the number of students using the platform for social networking.
“MGSE Staff now regularly provide links to articles or content that relates to teaching students with disabilities,” he says.
“Student users in turn contribute content to share with fellow students.”
The page also offers ideas on how to engage students with disabilities and actively encourages student feedback.
Recent posts to the MGSE_Inclusion Facebook page include links to a story about a second grade student creating a ‘buddy bench’ for children to sit on if they are feeling left out or lonely, pictorial charts on building language, and visual transition cues.
It also has posts to relevant jobs which encourages current students to think about their transition from a student to a working professional.
Staff are also engaging with their students and Twitter. The @MGSE_Inclusion Twitter account is used by staff to tweet out links to relevant stories, and is also being embraced by students who are increasingly live tweeting comments and questions during lectures.
Mr Logan says that students will often pose questions, make observations of key points or even add links that they think contribute to their peers’ understanding of the topic at hand.
“The class of 2013 even enjoyed a live tweet-up of their graduating ceremony proving just how embedded social media platforms can be in a good way!” he says.
Mr Logan says social media shouldn’t just be viewed as a way of communicating to current students.
It also helps staff stay in contact with Alumni, many of whom actively participate in the conversation with current students and staff by alerting them to current job opportunities, sharing practical ideas from their first-hand experience and by posting updates about their professional working life.
As the Inclusion cohorts grow, so too will the ability of staff and students to interact on social media as they’ll be able to contribute to the content with their learned experiences and also encourage and engage the newest members of their school community.
MGSE Twitter can be found via @MGSE_Inclusion