36 Teaching with Social Media

Teaching Strategies: Teaching with Social Media

Social Media refers to websites where individuals can interact through the creation, sharing, or exchanging of information in virtual communities or networks.  In education, we can leverage these virtual spaces where students interact and collaborate in their lives outside the classroom to encourage them to interact with the content in meaningful and engaging ways.


The research on the effectiveness of social media in the classroom is currently limited to attitudinal studies or self-reported data on the effectiveness and utility of select social media tools (Tess, 2013).   However, those preliminary studies have shown that classrooms that use social media as a teaching strategy generally creates a stronger sense of engagement in the learning process on the part of the students; creates more clear connections from the content to discipline and industry practices; allows for higher instances of real-time feedback from the instructor (Evans, 2013; Wilson, 2013). In distance learning settings, social media seems to encourage students to participate and interact with the content.  It is particularly effective in encouraging shy or quiet students to participate and engage in discussions (Powers, Alhussain, Averbeck, & Warner, 2012).


Cao and Hong (2011) indicate that the decision to adopt social media usage in the classroom is a complex process for faculty.  The social media tool must be:

  1. Useful to the course
  2. Able to control risk factors
  3. Have a learning curve that fits with the faculty member’s time and resources
  4. Be suitable and fruitful for the subject matter


For more information on specific tools and strategies that may help you decide whether or not to use social media in your classroom and what tool to choose, please refer to our 10 Strategies for Engaging Learners with Social Media document.

Quick Start Guide – 101

This strategy takes careful planning to create a social-media-based lesson that is effective and engaging. We have created a planning document that walks you through the steps to creating a lesson or activity using social media which can be found here: Social Media Lesson Plan Template 


This section outlines how you might begin to think about adopting the aforementioned teaching strategy and the tools you might consider employing.

  • Twitter:  Twitter is an online social networking service that allows users to post short, 140- character messages called “Tweets” to anyone within their network.
  • Pinterest: Pinterest is an online social networking site where users can “Pin” websites, images, or videos to their own “boards” or boards of those individuals they are connected with.  Generally, the items “pinned” share a common theme.
  • Linkedin: Linkedin is a social networking site specifically for professionals.  It creates networking opportunities for specific industries and a user’s profile page serves as a sort-of electronic resume.  Users can search for professional groups and for job opportunities with their accounts.
  • Offline Social Media Ideas: For those concerned about using online social media in their teaching, it is possible to create a physical “page” or “wall” for any of these sites on the wall of your classroom.


On the Web 


In the Library 


Cao, Y., & Hong, P. (2011). Antecedents and consequences of social media utilization in college teaching: A proposed model with mixed-methods investigation. On the Horizon, 19(4), 297-306.  doi:10.1108/10748121111179420 

Evans, B. (2013). Enhancing Undergraduate Teaching and Feedback using Social Media–an Engineering Case Study. Engineering Education8(2), 44-53.

Powers, L., Alhussain, R., Averbeck, C., & Warner, A. (2012). Perspectives on distance education and social media. Quarterly Review of Distance Education, 13(4), 241. 

Tess, P. A. (2013). The role of social media in higher education classes (real and virtual) – A literature review. Computers in Human Behavior, 29(5), A60-A68.  doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2012.12.032


Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License

Maverick Learning and Educational Applied Research Nexus Copyright © 2021 by Minnesota State University, Mankato is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

Share This Book