During the 2019 Teaching Institute we discussed specific ways to incorporate technology into our lessons. One way to do this is to create activities using the technology the students are being distracted by such as social media.
Social media such as Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook provide opportunities for students to connect with like-minded peers. Technology such as video and audio recordings, document sharing (e.g. Google Docs or OneDrive), and editing software (e.g. Adobe Photoshop) can provide students with interesting and exciting opportunities to engage with class materials. If used correctly and with purpose, these technologies can have lucrative learning outcomes for students.
During the Teaching Institute, I designed a classroom activity on research wherein students use Twitter posts to validate information. In this exercise I proposed that students find an article or post on Twitter and “fact check” the article. This provides a more fun way for students to engage in the information validation process by using their own social media, but also helps them learn how to conduct this process in a meaningful way. However, as instructors we cannot just use technology without a purpose. In fact, it is extremely important to have a learning objective guide the use of technology in the classroom. In the case of my example, the learning objective would be: At the end of this activity, students will be able to verify the source credibility of online information. This is an important skill in many communication courses (and university courses more broadly), so this is a large-scale learning objective. However, smaller learning objectives can also be attained using technology in the classroom.
Recently, I have been helping my department create and maintain a TikTok account. We are utilizing this platform as a way to give our students important information and to promote our department! We have a little fun too, of course. One of our most popular courses, is COM 110, Human Communication. This course focuses on both building the students' knowledge of communication theory and their public speaking ability. I created a TikTok that gives tips and tricks for public speaking. One great thing about TikTok is that videos are usually either 15 seconds, 30 seconds, or 1 minute. Although time limits have been lengthened recently, most creators stick to under 1 minute. This means concepts need to be fun and succinct. The TikTok I posted in the artifacts above is shown to many different courses in our department, and it has been well received by students!
Additionally, there are several resources on campus for both students and instructors. Students can participate in organizations such as the MSU Innovation Center and various programs through the library (e.g. MSU Digital Humanities). Instructors have many teaching resources at their disposal through programs such as Technology at MSU. This program has a variety of “services to support the academic environment and instructional technology” (see tech.msu.edu/teaching.