Of particular interest to me right now, and what may end up being a fascinating research topic is the use of social media in the classroom. I’m not sure the term ‘digital native’ is as accurate or appropriate as some might think, but in my experience, there are many learners in my classes that are using social sites such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and others to communicate with their peers. From a research perspective, we can’t say many. We have to ask, “how many?”, “how often?”, or more appropriately, “Is there anything to be gained from it?”
The epistemological implications need to go beyond just how social media is being used in the class, to some sort of reporting of any benefit to learning. It is fine for instructors or facilitators to make the class ‘cool’ by using these resources, but if it isn’t bringing improvements to learning, it may be increasing the facilitator’s workload for no reason. I know in my program, that by setting up a facebook page for our students (in our face to face classes), as a forum for posting interesting articles, discussion topics, and class information, our contact with the students has improved. The students are online so often, that even last minute room changes are appropriate posted there, than via more traditional means.
This blog is an example of a school assignment, and it was assigned with specific criteria. While it may be a valid project for learning, a facilitator would have to be careful to guide the use of social media, if it were to be expected to be successful at contributing towards student success at meeting or exceeding learning outcomes. Of course, this is just speculation based on my personal experience with a certain group of students. But I do think it would be interesting to study the addition of a social site to work alongside more traditional online learning portals such as D2L or Moodle.