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March 14, 2012 07:22 AM

Social Media In The Classroom

Madison, SD

Getting students to stay on top of work and pay attention in class can be challenging. And with social media and laptops it's even more difficult, but it doesn't have to be.

Rather than fight social media, some professors at Dakota State University decided to join Facebook.  Even students are surprised by all of the benefits.

Having students on Facebook and Twitter during a class may sound like a nightmare for teachers.  But some are finding ways to make social media work in and out of the classroom.

"About three semesters ago, I started using Facebook groups for my classes.  I use that to post events so students would know when homework, quizzes and tests were coming up and due, as well as communicate between students and myself," Assistant Professor at Dakota State University Chris Olsen said.

Other professors also have profiles. And that extra online communication is making a difference.

"You know, it’s really beneficial.  We have Facebook groups for different classes and it allows us to communicate better with the professor," student Bryan Muller said.

"I wouldn't have expected it, but I really like it, just for the fact that it was really nice to use outside of class and it was easier to communicate with them and find out how to do things," sophomore Tara Krause said.

And that communication goes beyond assignments and reminders; it can keep class discussions going even after the bell rings.

"You know, you only have a limited amount of time for classes like 90 or 50 minutes.  When you have social media sites like Facebook or Twitter, you can continue those conversations through the rest of the day or the rest of the week," Muller said.

So, for professors and students, social media seems to be making a turn from social to academic.

Olsen says since starting Facebook in his class, it has kept his students more on top of their academics.  He uses it a little more every semester and plans to continue to do the same in the future.

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