Social media is such a big part of our culture. Pew Research estimates that about 70 percent of the U.S. population uses social media in some form or another (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Snapchat), and that number is greatest in the 18- to 29-year-old age group (about 80 percent).

So if this is where my students are, I want to be there too—but in a professional way. I use a combination of my professional Twitter and Instagram accounts to stay connected with my students. In all of my classes, my students have a class assignment to create a professional Twitter and Instagram account. I don’t require them to post but I do require that they search for the class hashtag and check out the articles and information that I share. I also recommend that they follow the professional accounts I follow. I keep it pretty simple, but students often mention that they love getting connected to the educational professionals I follow and they like that I retweet posts from various university organizations.

I encourage my students to create a professional online presence. I tell them that they will be Googled by their prospective employers (when I was hiring teachers I would Google applicants all the time) and having a social media presence that presents them as a professional is very impressive. This is an easy way to connect to my students and also to bring them into the field of education.

We are in the business of creating smart, responsible, and well-connected professionals, and modeling a strong professional social media presence is a great way to teach this skill set. Check out my examples below.

How to use social media to engage your students #highered

If you have questions or comments or just want to see what I’m doing in my classroom, follow me on Twitter @careyingle and instagram @teachingandlearningwdringle.

[Editor’s Note: See previous Better Teaching Thru Tech columns here.]

About the Author:

Jeanne Carey Ingle, Ph.D., is an assistant professor at Bridgewater State University in Mass. She is relatively new to higher education after working for many years as an elementary school teacher. She teaches courses in elementary education, inequality in education, and educational technology. In addition, she works with Title I schools on effective technology integration. Her research includes using technology to improve student outcomes, closing the achievement gap for all students, and using immersive technologies to prepare pre-service teachers.


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