Student feedback on #SocMedHE16 Social Media for Learning in Higher Education Conference

This post is re-blogged from a post I submitted to ACES News – This is a news packed blog led by Yve Appleton containing stories about students and staff in the Faculty of Arts, Computing, Engineering, and Sciences (ACES) at Sheffield Hallam University.

SocMedHEStrat workshop

The day also coincided with Christmas Jumper Day, hence the perhaps odd outfits some are wearing in the photos!

On the 16th December 2016 the 2nd Social Media for Learning in Higher Education Conference was held at Sheffield Hallam University. The event attracted educators from across the UK and abroad. This year’s theme was ‘The Empowered Learner’. Ten places were allocated to Sheffield Hallam students. Four of the successful applicants were from the Department of Computing – Information Technology with Business Studies students. Each had personal and academic interests in social media having either taken or currently studying Digital Marketing. One student, currently in his final year, is researching how social media is being used for recruitment and communication within higher education for his dissertation.

The students took an active part in the workshops and attended a variety of short papers. They also contributed to the Twitter conversations making good use of the conference hashtag #SocMedHE16.   Below you can read about what they gained from attending their first academic conference.

Ola Mazur (2nd year)- Information Technology with Business Studies

For me the best part was getting to know other people that are as passionate about digital marketing as I am, and listening to their own experiences and how they use social media – this gave me a lot of new ideas to explore.

I learnt that the digital world is ever growing and I need to use it more to my advantage in our studies, such as having a twitter page for each of our modules and using twitter polls to enhance our learning experience.

“There were so many good ideas!”

Writing our ideas into a report based on the four pillars of making social media work in HE, inspired me to think of ideas which we could use ourselves, or that we already use. I will be looking back on the document and telling my peers about it to inform them of the new ways in which we could learn

I think social media can definitely empower learners due to having 24/7 access while on the go we can constantly keep learning, meeting new people online who have the same interests can also open new ways of getting information. In the future I think we should make a bigger use of social media for learning because all students interact online.

Corran Wood (2nd year) – Information Technology with Business Studies

For me, one highlight from the conference was the thunderstorm workshop/talk. The style of short 5-10 minute presentations from multiple people with the ability to ask questions at the end made it very interesting and was really effective in engaging my interests. It was fascinating to hear all of the different experiences that people have been through in regards to social media in higher education and all the different methods that have been applied. This has led to the discovery of techniques that can be used in social media. For example, the idea of using Twitter polls is a great idea because students have the ability to participate without needing a ‘professional’ Twitter. In combination with the use of Storify to allow students to view the results after the activity, this could be used as a powerful revision tool.

 “I had a brilliant day!”

Meeting a wide range of people from lecturers to managers of companies, I gained a huge insight on how people can use social media to network professionally and further their knowledge. This has definitely inspired me to use social media for my education, especially on the day as Tweeting was encouraged and helped me to start realising the impacts of social media to connect and learn. From this, I believe that social media can empower learners, as a student I have first hand experience of this. When used in the correct context and by teaching students how to use social media in learning, a student can open a world of knowledge and experiences. To achieve this, I do believe that a student needs to have the drive to empower their learning, as without the motivation and curiosity, the tools to become empowered will not be utilised to the full extent needed.

Jess Paddon (2nd year) – Information Technology with Business Studies

The best part of the conference, was meeting people from different educational institutions, and learning about their teaching in social media, and how social media has impacted them and the way they learn and teach. Another part of the conference which I enjoyed was working with people from different educational backgrounds in order to create and implement ideas related to social media.

I learned about how social media is used to enhance student learning experiences and different functions of social media platforms that help to implement this into modern day learning, such as Twitter polls and Facebook events. It has definitely inspired me to use different platforms to their full capacity, in order to collate a variety of opinions from different people, and to be able to use these for further analysis and to create reports and presentations.

“It has definitely inspired me to use different platforms to their full capacity”

I definitely feel that social media can empower learners, as they can constantly keep up to date with advancements in their chosen fields, and are able to express their thoughts and opinions freely amongst these networks. They are also able to connect with and share ideas with people who share the same interests as them, and make a positive contribution within different industries.

Sher Khan (Final Year)  – Information Technology with Business Studies

The best part of the conference for me was the six thunderstorms all of which were short, powerful and introduced how social media was used in a variety of different aspects of learning. Out of the six thunderstorms I particularly liked the “Full connection with the iGeneration’: WhatsApp and the student-teacher relationship”. It was a really interesting approach into how WhatsApp was used by lecturers not only in the actual lectures themselves but to support students throughout their learning.

“The social media for higher education learning event in 2016 was overall engaging, interesting and activity based”

Throughout the day I learnt many different aspects related to learning in higher education through the use of social media.  I learnt about how YouTube was used to aid students learning, how twitter was used as a question and answer function through introducing hashtags and promoting students to post on the hashtags. I also learnt about the LTHE chat and how this was growing amongst the higher education community. Also I learnt about how students in the University of Southampton were co-creating content amongst themselves on social media to aid their learning and collaboration. Finally I also learnt about one or two new social media productivity tools such as “Slack” and “Padlet” which I am actually now thinking about incorporating into future project work.

The experience has certainly inspired me to use social media for learning and also which social media tools I can adopt in addition to those tools that I am currently using. As a result of this conference I feel that social media can be more widely used by certain lecturers to actually aid the learning process as some of the examples of the use of social media by the vast array of lecturers at the conference were really good. Therefore I feel that it can be more utilised by more lecturers and staff throughout the university.

“I certainly think that social media can empower learners to better utilise the tool for their studies and to also learn more from some of the professionals within their industry”

Overall the event was well organised and fun to take part in. As well as actually learning about social media we also got to take part in some activities along-side professionals which was also a positive experience.

About Sue Beckingham

A National Teaching Fellow, Educational Developer and Principal Lecturer in Computing with a research interest in the use of social media in higher education.
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