Social Media used in Online Classrooms

When it comes to social media I usually stick to the basic sites that everyone is familiar with- Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and if I am feeling adventurous Ill browse Pinterest. I have always been a “shy” social media person with little activity. For example, it is not uncommon for me to go two or months without posting a picture or updating my status. However, I do check my Facebook and Instagram account several times a day and “like” status and pictures of people I am following.

So when I registered for a class that was centered on social media, I had mixed feelings to say the least. I was nervous because I knew the class would more than likely make me step out of my “liking only” comfort zone. However, I was also excited to explore other social media tools that may be more centered on education and schooling rather than the usual social aspects.


VoiceThread is the first tool that caught my eye. VoiceThread is a tool that is ideal for bringing a different spin of engagement for online courses. It is similar to the discussion boards that are often used in most online courses where students have to research and share their insights and opinion on a topic. Discussion board engagement takes place when students and professors respond with their thoughts to the original post made by their peer.

VoiceThread uses the same interactive concepts but different elements. The main tool that is used for VoiceThreads is videos. Videos are more personal than written articles and discussions and allows for an in person verses a virtual classroom feel.  Alexandra Pickett, director of the Open SUNY Center for Online Teaching Excellence, started using VoiceThread in 2006, primarily as an icebreaking activity in her online course, “One of the things that you want to do initially in an online course is to establish a sense of social presence among the participants in the course and with the students,” said Pickett. “And so I want to represent myself as a real person because that way they know that I’m real; I’m not a robot, I’m approachable, I am multidimensional (Pickett, 2015).”


You may also interact via VoiceThread through images and audio files as well. As social media- including tools like VoiceThread continues to involve I can imagine professors engaging their students in forums that are more relatable to them like SnapChat videos, skits and Emojis. Professor Pickett expresses, “It allows the material that you’re talking about more engaging visually as well as in terms of interaction. It’s less passive than just reading text.” is another social media that’s primary focus is to help students interact with their peers and professors. The format of is similar to Pinterest, where a student or professor can search for an idea and “pin” or attach it to their personal page and also share it with others via other social media mediums or blogs. Rhode Island Professor Dixon has begun to incorporate in his class as an information headquarters; “Students are required to do readings from Dixon’s page, and then they “re-scoop” some of that information with their own notes to verify that they’ve read and understood the material (Meyer, 2015).”


Both and VoiceThread are tools that are beginning to be utilized in classrooms, especially online courses for engagement. These innovate and fresh tools are the future of learning and can hopefully take the place of traditional text books and discussion boards sooner than later. I am sure you won’t hear students complaining!


What apps have you used in a school atmosphere? Should SHNU try and Voicethread?


References:  Meyer, 2015. 6 Alternative Social Media Tools for Teaching and Learning. Pickett, 2015. VoiceThreads. 2016.


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