Friday, August 31, 2012

Making Learning Authentic Through Social and Rich Media—Reenergizing Your Classroom

photo by K.Rees
At the 14th Annual UW-La Crosse Conference on Teaching and Learning, one of the core topics focused on how we can engage students into the curriculum by making learning more authentic. The premise here is to find how social and rich media can be used as tools to accomplish this engagement, and in the process- reenergize the classroom.

Information technologies and social media are intertwined in the fabric of our daily lives. In teaching students, we look for strategies to keep them engaged in the learning process.  Perhaps we can integrate our technology tools into the teaching and learning process to make learning more authentic and relevant.  In this presentation faculty learned innovative strategies to incorporate social and rich media into virtually any discipline.  This interactive session opened new vistas to reenergize faculty, their students, and the classroom experience.

During the session, CNN iReports were utilized as one tool to immerse faculty into relevant stories, and both faculty and students were encouraged to write photojournalistic stories that could be shared worldwide.  I demonstrated the power of social media and citizen reporting by showcasing political topics, human interest stories, and on the U.S. Drought of 2012.  A CNN series of stories on the drought illustrated the power of personalizing the social media message. The key to the story's success was to focus more than on the drought, but how it affects people and their lives. Another example of iReporting featured a story of how faculty and students at Illinois College wrote their first iReport, and how they learned to "Bring the World into Focus."
As part of the session, a Twitter hashtag #UWLTLC12 was used.  Bob Hoar, a UW-L faculty member was tweeting during the session.  In addition, other attending faculty and staff also tweeted to create a "community of collaboration."  I pointed out that using software like Tweetdeck, allows you to follow multiple topical streams of tweets, but also provides you links to information at a moment's notice. 

Other tools that were discussed included web streaming with Mediasite, utilizing Facebook, and YouTube. The session concluded with reminding the audience that social media can: motivate and engage "the base", accelerate the speed of dissemination, disseminate fact or fiction, affect the attribution of the author, reinforce, influence and change opinion, and most importantly make learning more relevant and authentic.

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