We have to extend what it means to be a modern-day educator. How can we make our work relevant in the community? How can we make sure our insights, research, and work in the classroom are impacting the industry?
We have to take a more comprehensive view of our contribution, and the impact that we can have, at a larger scale. I think social media is the gateway to create those opportunities.
Social media in my classes
I use social media in some capacity in all of my classes. It allows students to get to know me as a human being and relate to me more, and I get to see them and their personal brands, too.
It’s also a platform that is comfortable for them and forces obvious discussion. I get to see the things that get them interested. Gen Z is really looking for that engagement, that constant feedback. For a place where, if they have a question, they can send you a DM or have a video chat about an assignment.
It lets you see where they’re at, and shows them that you’re willing to engage them on their level on the platform of their choosing. Ultimately, it’s all about the students — go where they feel most comfortable.
We are teaching the YouTube™ generation. When they have a question, they don’t necessarily go to the text; they go on YouTube. They’re very visual learners, but they want information that’s consumable in just a few minutes.
So what we have to realize is that the days of doing a 3-hour lecture and keeping the students’ attention is probably over for the most part.
If you need help, reach out to other professors. We’re not only there to help our students, we need to be helping each other, because this is a space that we’re all still learning.
What I’ve tried to do with the Facebook group that I manage is just say “Here’s what worked for me, here’s what assignments crashed and burned, here’s what I can do to help.” We share our stories, resources, assignments, and really support each other — it’s been one of the most dynamic and positive communities I’ve been a part of.
Engage students by using the platforms they most prefer. According to a 2021 study by Pew Research, these are the percentages of 18–29-year-olds who regularly use the following online platforms:
YouTube (95%), Instagram (71%), Facebook (70%), Snapchat (65%), TikTok (48%).