I have been a college professor for nearly ten years. I teach public relations and social media classes. In March 2015, I received a huge wake-up call. I read in a good student's paper that he had never heard of "Pinterest" and didn't even know how to spell the word. I was in shock. It seemed that my students were far less digitally savvy than I had assumed. I started asking questions and doing formal and informal research. I discovered that while students are quite adept at using social media to connect and communicate with their friends and family members, students need lots of training from qualified teachers when it comes to using social media as a professional and strategic tool.
But before we can train students to be digitally competent, we first need to have qualified teachers who can train students. The realization motivated me to make radical changes in my pedagogical practices. I embraced social media as a pedagogical tool and started to heavily practice what I preached in the classroom. I started to do everything that I required my students to do, such as blogging, auditing and developing a personal/professional brand for myself, becoming an active user of mainstream social media platforms, educating myself on emerging platforms and then building an active presence on these sites, attending industry conferences, etc. In other words, I overcame my fear of the unknown, started to walk my talk, and became digitally savvy.
The results have been overwhelmingly positive. For example, I used to struggle to find guest speakers from the industry to speak to my students. Once I started to develop a personal brand for myself, I quickly had a waiting list of speakers who wanted to speak to my class. What a change. Students have also become more engaged with the course material and more proactive in self-directed learning. They frequently referred to my class as a "community" or a "family." (insert the tweet screenshot here)
My teaching evaluation scores have also become better. In my last semester of teaching, I got full marks for almost all of my course evaluations. And the strong digital brand I built for myself has also attracted a wide range of opportunities to me, such as speaking engagements, research collaboration, guest blog invitations, and podcast interviews. More importantly, I have developed a close network of professionals who have become the best resources for my teaching and students' career opportunities. I myself have become a bridge, interlinking education with practice to shrink the gap between what students learn in the classroom and what they practice in real life.
After experiencing how social media has transformed my teaching career, I have become an advocate of social media pedagogy. I believe social media can bring the same transformative power, if not stronger, to your teaching and career!