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Career Clusters™ Institute Series: Why Use Social Media Technologies in the CTE Classroom?

This blog series provides readers with insight on the valuable content that will be shared at the upcoming Career Clusters ™ Institute. Guest bloggers are among teachers, faculty, researchers and other experts that will present at the national gathering in Washington, DC in June.

Kathy Belcher has served as Project Coordinator at the University of North Texas since 2008. She coordinates high school CTE curriculum and professional development resources for STEM and Manufacturing, federally funded by the Educational Excellence Career Grants. She is a graduate of the University of North Texas and holds professional teaching certifications in Art Education and General Elementary Education. Belcher serves as secretary for the Texas Technology and Engineering Education association.

Why use social media technologies in the CTE classroom? As a teacher, I will have to learn what the technologies are, how to use them, integrate them into my existing curriculum, make the case to my principal, add planning time to my already busy teaching schedule, and monitor their use.

Social media technologies can support active learning, social learning, and student publication, by providing environments and technologies that promote and foster these interactions (Ajjan, et al., citing Ferdig, 2007). Teachers who use social media technologies in the classroom encourage individual sharing, promote social interactivity, provide a virtual space where learning begun in the classroom can continue beyond the classroom walls, and inspire lifelong learning (Robbie, et al., 2008).
Research in the field reveals many positive student learning outcomes using social media technologies. Listed are some ideas on how to use such technologies to maximize those outcomes:

  • Create a collaborative Web site, or wiki to exchange ideas and information on a collaborative project by adding, removing, or editing site content.
  • Create a daily online journal blog to reflect on their progress; read, post comments and respond to each other’s blogs for peer-review; include images and links to web content; and express opinions.
  • Work collaboratively through social file sharing (DropBox, Google Documents, Moodle) creating shared folders and files to retrieve and edit documents in one location. And, create a forum for parents and others to view their work.
  • Meet virtually in one centralized location with numerous people to discuss and collaborate in real-time to achieve a common goal through social collaboration (Skype, Google+Hangout); and continue learning beyond the classroom walls.
  • Create a virtual identity and connect, network and interact with family, friends, classmates and teachers, creating and building relationships critical not only to personal success but also to professional success through social networking (Facebook, Twitter, Google+). Post homework assignments and deadlines for assignments or tests, or poll the classmates on relevant topics.
  • Share videos, photos, and personal publications through social creativity sharing (YouTube, Flickr, Writeboard) to develop as creative and innovative thinkers and leverage social creativity.

There are many benefits linked to students’ use of social media technologies in the CTE classroom: increased active and social learning; improved student-teacher relationships; positive experiences in and outside the classroom; and perhaps the one I like best is “Social media helps students learn how to collaborate and collaboration skills are viewed by educators as the “quintessential skill” for students in the 21st century” (Smith, 2010).

Learn more about how you can use social media technologies to support student learning by attending Kathy’s session at the National Career Clusters™ Institute. Attendees will leave with access to FREE curriculum and professional development resources made possible through the UNT/TEA Career Education Excellence Grants.

Register today.

References:
Robbie, D., & Zeeng, L. (2008). Engaging student social networks to motivate learning: Capturing, analyzing and critiquing the visual image. The International Journal of Learning, 15(3), 153-160.
Smith, N. (2010, May 4). Teachers embracing social media in the classroom. TechNewsDaily. Retrieved from http://www.technewsdaily.com/421-teachers-embracing-social-media-in-the-classroom.html
Teclehaimanot. B., & Hickman, T. (2011). Student-teacher interactions on Facebook: What students find appropriate. TechTrends, 55(3), pp. 19-30.

Ramona Schescke, Member Services Manager

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