Join OEE’s discussion on using social media in education

On 24 April 2017 Open Education Europa is inviting you to join an online discussion on using social media in education.

The live chat session is organised as part of OEE’s April focus on social media in education and will be moderated by Johanni Larjanko, Editor-in-Chief for the international journal Adult Education and Development.

Have you ever used social media in your practice? How social media can be used to reach traditionally ‘weak’ learners (e.g. migrants, or learners with low literacy)? What do you think are the benefits and challenges of using social media in education? Share your thoughts with us and learn about your peers’ experiences from across Europe!

The event will take place on this page on 24 April 2017 from 1:00PM to 2:00PM CET. Before taking part, make sure you’re logged into your account (creating an account is free).

Feel free to post your comment, ask a question or share your opinion!


Welcome to this month’s Open Education Europa LiveChat! We’re joined by Johanni Larjanko, Editor-in-Chief for the international journal Adult Education and Development. This is an open text-based LiveChat – any comments or questions from the community are welcome :-)
So let’s get started – hi Johanni! And hi to all of our community members who are joining us today!
Hi everyone :)
Hello everyone, welcome to this 1 hour live discussion on social media in education. I am Johanni Larjanko, an adult educator from Finland. I am curious, who is here today? Please introduce yourselves briefly.
Hello from Dublin
Hi everyone, I'm Rumen Halachev and I work as an editor for OEE. :)
Hello everyone!
Hi all, I'm Louise and I work as a Community Manager for EPALE
Hi, I'm Sinead. I'm the EPALE officer for the NSS here in Ireland.
Thank you Louise, Sinead, Rumen
I'm Sanjeet and work as Web Manager for OEE :)
I can also start by telling sth about myself: I am working in non-formal adult education, both as a programme planner and as a teacher. Social media has over the years become something of a pet hobby of mine.
Hi Sinead, I'm based in the UK :)
I will start off with a short intro, meanwhile, please feel free to write about who you are and where from, ok? :-)
@larjanko Have you used social media in your practice with adults?
Rumen, yes, and more about that in a minute
I had in mind to try and cover three aspects on social media and its relation to education. 1. Social media as a new learning arena/platform 2. The prospect of multimedia/immersive learning 3. Reaching out with learning, benefits for hard to reach groups.
Those are my current areas of interest, but let's see where the discussion takes us. and, as always please feel free to add your own experience/thoughts/words of caution etc, ok?
Sounds good
Number 1: new learning arenas. I find that social media (in this context Facebook groups and other online communities) can be very useful to set up meeting spaces for learners. Do you agree?
Benefits of online learning arenas include for example peer-to-peer learning, and an approach to teaching that is based on dialogue and co-creation. Or, at least it can be,
Yes, I agree, I think social media offers immediacy for questions to be answered easily within an online community.
Yes, I find that social media can help build a sense of community. It is so easy and quick to share interesting resources and keep in contact.
The flipside/risk is if online is approached as just an information channel, another way to send material to learners.
Sinead, exactly! This can also be very helpful for teachers, as a support platform (sharing ideas, frustrations, success)
@larjanko Yes, it is such a pity to see tools with great potential just be used as a filing cabinet instead!
We have built several such communities over the years for different learning groups. They are successful if the group takes ownership of the issues and see the benefits of keeping in touch and communicating.
The second risk is we start communities without the proper support or follow-up. That tends to lead to empty groups. Social media is easy to use and set up, harder to maintain...
I was just about to ask you about initial supports :)
Can be hard to maintain, but that is why a sense of group ownership is so important
yes, online does mean free in terms of software, but not in staff costs. It takes as much time/effort to teach in blended learning as in classroom based learning.
And so it should not be on the shoulders of some enthusiasts only, as they will burn out (i know of many such in my surroundings)
Ah, I follow Alastair! He has great insights
I am not sure whether some here are still pondering/preparing responses to this question/section, but i suggest we go to point 2. If you want to comment on this first issue, feel free!
Section/part/question 2 in my mind was about the possibilities of social media to offer Immersive/interactive learning, the prospect of multimedia
Here, the tech industry is really still pushing the hype, currently regarding VR, virtual reality.
Interesting, thank you Rumen!
Does any of you work with or have used flipped classroom approaches?
Yes, I've used flipped classroom for a few years now. I find it great.
In my mind social media only becomes really useful in education when used properly, with a thought on how and why, and with a purpose to foster co-creation and co-ownership among the learners/students. Do you agree?
now, the flipped classroom can be with or without social media, but i think the approach lends itself well to include social media. Sinead, please tell me more, how are you flipping?
What is the teacher’s role (if any) in the process of non-formal education when social media is involved?
@larjanko Yes, I think it's important to use when it has added value to your process, and not just because it's the 'hip thing to do' or as a standalone tool.
Louise: in my opinion, to lead by example, to help weaker participants, to encourage and make results visible, to push learners.
If we take the very old tool of blogging it is still a very powerful tool in education, and it is social by nature.
Sorry, my connection dropped! For flipping, I use Voice Thread a lot for interactive presentations. Students love it too. See: I also use Twitter and Google communities
My point is that social can mean something that includes multimedia, allow for the co-creation of media within the learning situation, and it can be "just" about writing.
@larjanko I've used blogging as a tool in my teaching career (I used to be an English teacher). It was a great tool for students to express their opinions on topics that matter to them and get to know each other better outside the classroom
One huge benefit of using multimedia is those learners with dyslexia, or anything else, can compose a song, make a video, shoot a video, around the subject at hand.
What I like about voice thread is that you can leave text, audio or video comments, so it works for various literacy levels
Rumen, me too, and i agree. Once you have done that and it worked you will want to do it again.
Sinead, exactly! This is also something that can help in teaching migrants, people with learning challenges, etc.
Moreover, using social media as the platform for this makes it more real. It connects learning to our everyday life and behaviour. I think this supports the idea of learning everywhere, and not confined to a learning situation, nor a classroom.
@larjanko Yes, and it works for everyone, so you are not making a special case or sense of 'otherness' for some learners in the group.
Louise, yes, i had this in mind too, thanks for sharing it!
That is an important aspect. We all learn at different speeds, social media can be one tool to allow you to work at your own speed, at least to some extent.
Johanni, do you have any other examples of vulnerable groups that could be reached with social media?
For language learning, Skype is a great tool to set up learners to talk to people with the learning language as their native tongue. It also makes it more real.
Rumen, i am thinking about homeless people, drug addicts, school dropouts. They often tend to now have a computer, but almost everyone has a smartphone. Thanks to tech developments, most of our social media tools work in those.
There, privacy is of the essence. As in all learning settings, you need to build trust first.
On the subject of privacy and safety what measures need to be taken to ensure children’s online safety when we use social media in education?
when making assignment in class, having a social media channel as the output also helps make the exercise more real, it has an audience, and learners tend to put in the extra effort.
Sanjeet, for minors i still recommend closed environments, and/or using handles rather than real names. Never full names/addresses or age. Very careful with images and video.
we are approaching the last part of the live chat. As we have already entered into the usefulness/possibilities of social media for reaching hard to reach groups and those with different sorts of challenges, i suggest we spend the last minutes on challenges and possibilities.
There is certainly no lack of tools, or vendors, trying to convince teachers about their fantastic product/service. It is hard to know how to select the best ones.
As the best ones may differ depending on your group, your needs, and your abilities.
Very true Johnni. I think it is important to have a clear purpose in mind first and then 'go shopping' for potential tools to serve it.
yes, i think social media, or ict in general is not a cure-for-all. It can be extremely useful, it can motivate and engage, it can help learners take co-ownership, it can make aspects of learning more engaging, interactive, intuitive and fun.
What do you think are the biggest challenges to using SM in the classroom, Johanni?
Yes Rumen, in addition to Internet safety, digital literacies and questions around privacy are big issues too
but it is not a quick road to learning, there are no shortcuts, and online is a complement, not a replacement for good teachers. Social media includes a lot of hype and marketing that we need to see through. I think educators should be involved also in creating the learning tools of today and tomorrow. We should be interested in the knowledge understanding (or lack thereof) that these tools are built on.
To me, discussions like this, online communities for teachers, support groups, blogs, and the open education movement (and open source) are all good and very useful to help build that.
Rumen, the biggest challenges are between the ears of the teacher. Letting go of control is tough. Trusting learners is tough. And social media is also so full of distractions, so the second largest challenge is to be able to see/understand the learning process that goes on/or does not go on. Learning is not ALL about having fun, or entertaining the learners...
Looking ahead, i think we will see more players offering key-in-hand solutions, ruefully often built on campus analogies, with a teacher classroom, grading systems and control options of participation...
At least, those are some of my fears. The anarchy that is the net currently can be tough to navigate, but we can also influence and be part in building it. To me, that benefit outweighs the negatives.
Alas, the hour mark is fast approaching. Last rounds of comments from everyone! what did you think of the discussion today?
Ah yes, the manifesto, good! :-)
Thanks for an interesting discussion and for all the useful links. Lovely to meet you all.
Thank you Johanni, I think the discussion was very useful in terms of providing good practice examples and identifying key challenges and solutions in using SM
Thank you Sinead! and Rumen
Thanks Johanni and thanks everyone for the useful links.
Thanks Johanni, it was interesting to hear your perspectives on social media
Thank you all for joining and thanks especially to Johanni :-) Don’t forget to take part in our next discussion on 24 May at 12 CET where we will talk about what makes a good open educational resource (OER)!
You don't want to miss that!