As part of my Masters Degree, I researched and wrote a paper on the use of social media technologies in teaching and learning. I looked specifically at how it might relate to constructivist teaching pedagogy, and specifically, if social media could be an effective tool for assisting students in knowledge building and meaning-making activities. This post is third in a series examining the five main themes that I discovered in my research. The first post can be found by clicking here.
4 – Self-Mediation
In an active, constructive learning environment, the student is engaged and creating their own learning experience. A student that is able to take control of their learning is likely to be more successful. It is therefore important to discuss the next topic, self-mediation. If our goal (as outlined above) is to align teaching methods with constructivism, then it comes with the understanding that some control must be relinquished to the learners. In fact, if we impose what is traditionally thought of as classroom control, we would simply hamper the process, and work against what we are trying to achieve. In a study by Borstnar (2012) a formally structured facilitation was shown to have the effect of dampening self-management in the group. Conversely, Borstnar’s results also showed that a non-structured learning environment that is encouraged through the use of social media tools promotes self-management and more successful group knowledge acquisition.
Teaching students to become effective self-regulated learners may help them acquire basic and complex personal knowledge management skills
(Dabbagh & Kitsantas, 2012)
Self-mediation with social media also brings with it an inherent challenge. More than just letting the students do their own thing, social media requires specific direction to encourage the student to use it beneficially. Many studies have shown that when left alone with social media, learners will multitask, they will become distracted, they will borrow time from other activities, and they will use it to arrange their social and non-academic lives (Hew, 2011; Junco & Cotten, 2012; Junco, 2012; Kirschner & Karpinski, 2010; Kuznekoff & Titsworth, 2013; Levine, Waite, & Bowman, 2007). When left unguided with social media in the classroom, it can certainly be a big distraction. As a teacher, I find that self-mediation is one of the hardest components to incorporate into a lesson plan. On the one hand, a ‘letting go’ is required. On the other, very specific guidance and direction is required so that the learners are able to succeed. This is a balancing act, to be certain. But as outlined below, one of the ways that a facilitator can engage students in their own self-mediation is to assign it!
Since self-mediation in the classroom does not succeed as a wide open smorgasbord of opportunity for students, a guided, select approach is warranted. Create assignments that allow the student to choose which social media platform they prefer, while still being very specific about the outcomes you expect from the finished product. Create expectations that the students can understand, yet that they can still have some control over. Give the learner the ‘why’ and the ‘what’ and let them come up with a plan for the ‘how’. Closely tied to this is self assessment. Students creating and sharing their knowledge through blogs, wikis and e-portfolios is a fantastic opportunity for self-reflection, as well as an opportunity for the learner to actually see what they have accomplished. This way the learner is able to transition from outward social learning towards deeper, internal reflection. At this point, it also should be mentioned that these strategies also align well with teaching and encouraging students in building and creating their own personal learning network, something that links to the final theme of autonomy, discussed in the next section.
Borstnar, M. (2012). Towards understanding collaborative learning in the social media environment. Organizacija, 45(3), 100. http://doi.org/http://dx.doi.org.ezproxy.royalroads.ca/10.2478/v10051-012-0010-8
Hew, K. F. (2011). Students’ and teachers’ use of Facebook. Computers in Human Behavior, 27(2), 662–676. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2010.11.020
Junco, R. (2012). The relationship between frequency of Facebook use, participation in Facebook activities, and student engagement. Computers & Education, 58(1), 162–171. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.compedu.2011.08.004
Junco, R., & Cotten, S. R. (2012). No A 4 U: The relationship between multitasking and academic performance. Computers & Education, 59(2), 505–514. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.compedu.2011.12.023
Kirschner, P. A., & Karpinski, A. C. (2010). Facebook and academic performance. Computers in Human Behavior, 26(6), 1237–1245. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2010.03.024
Kuznekoff, J. H., & Titsworth, S. (2013). The impact of mobile phone usage on student learning. Communication Education, 62(3), 233–252. http://doi.org/10.1080/03634523.2013.767917
Levine, L. E., Waite, B. M., & Bowman, L. L. (2007). Electronic media use, reading, and academic distractibility in college youth. CyberPsychology & Behavior, 10(4), 560–566. http://doi.org/10.1089/cpb.2007.9990