4 Examples of Using Social Media and the Olympics in the College Classroom: Increase Student Engagement by Adding Excitement to you Lesson Plans.

Are your students bored in your classroom this summer? Will you stick to your same old lesson plans?

College instructors have an opportunity to take advantage of the excitement over the next few weeks.

The Olympics games will officially begin this month.  The 2012 Olympics begin Friday, July 27, and conclude Sunday, Aug. 12. How can college instructors capitalize on the new social media tools to increase student engagement and improve retention during summer semester classes? One way is to involve students in the Olympics.

There will be opportunities as never before imagined to engage students in the Olympics in London through the use of powerful social media tools such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Google+. Some people are referring to the games as the  “Socialympics.”

While social media has been around for several past Olympics, the amount of people on social media has grown exponentially making it vastly bigger in scale and magnitude. Facebook had only 100 million users during the Beijing Games 4 years ago compared with 900 million users today. Twitter has grown from 6 million to 150 million.

Time reports that the IOC is planning life chats with athletes from the Olympic village allowing students the opportunity to pose questions using social media.

We are at a dawn of a new age of sharing and connecting, and London 2012 will ignite the first conversational Olympic Games, thanks to social media platforms and technology

Alex Huot, the IOC’s head of social media,

4 Examples for adapting your lesson plans to create excitement around social media and the Olympics.

  1. Have students share articles highlighting their favorite Olympic sports in Google+ or Facebook. Google+ is well-suited for sharing photos of the Olympics. Students add value to the photos by writing their own description. Students can comment on the posts of other students or reshare the posts of others.
  2. YouTube is an excellent resource for viewing and sharing videos. Videos of the triumphs and struggles of the Olympic athletes can lead into a discussion  on many topics such as goal setting, work ethic, and time management skills. Others topics of discussion might be eating disorders, aging, and balance.
  3. Google Hangouts are a way to connect up to 10 students at a time. Hangouts are very easy to learn. You only need an inexpensive webcam and microphone to connect to your computer. Hangouts can be used on the phone or iPad as well by downloading an app.  Students can share interesting videos about the Olympics and they can share their reactions with each other.
  4. Twitter is used the most by people following the Olympics. Students can practice writing skills be highlighting informative articles in 140 characters or less. Students can then attach an article to the tweet providing more information and engagement.

The official motto of the Olympics is swifter, higher, stronger.

Why not use this motto to motivate your students to develop the skills to achieve in their chosen career?

Students become bored with college during the summer months and wish they were taking off the summer like many of their friends. Engage your students by adding some excitement to your lesson plans.

You may also be interested in reading:

Social media’s role in Olympics grows with surge in users

What You Can Learn from Olympic Athletes (EMILY MAIN)

Google+ Hangouts

10 Questions for Dara Torres (Alice Park)   


Social Media: Tools to Develop a Deep-Learning Approach

Students use powerful social media tools to collaborate on projects.

Students can use social media to collaborate on projects.

Studies suggest that students expect and believe they can achieve in challenging subjects.

Students Believe They Can Succeed

Yet, a college student has many responsibilities including work, family, sports, and social life. These responsibilities compete for the student’s time, energy, and effort.

Many students want to succeed by simply memorizing a set of facts just long enough to do well on the test. This is a surface approach to learning. How can instructors engage students and help students grasp the importance of learning the material and applying the concepts learned in new and different situations.

Deep-Learning Approach vs. Surface Learning

Instructors encourage a surface approach to learning when they focus on the facts instead of engaging students in the content. By engaging students, instructors can build on the knowledge that students already possess.  Instructors who focus assessment on understanding and engagement encourage a deeper learning, and students are better able to apply the material in the real world.

But practically, how can instructors engage students in the course material? Many feel that the case approach to learning is the best way to develop deep learning.

The Case Approach

The case approach to learning allows the use of real-world examples that develop a deep-learning approach rather than a surface approach to learning.

But the case approach generally lends itself to group work. College students often have difficulty meeting with their groups and meeting deadlines.

While this has been one of the biggest challenges to the case approach, the new and powerful social media tools are helping to make communication and engagement easier and enjoyable for students.

Social Media Platforms Offer a New Way to Communicate

Students are able to contact their group members with Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google+ and other social media platforms. They can work on projects together and share information online without having to rearrange their class or work schedules.

How are you using social media in the classroom to engage students? Thank you for your comments.

Additional reading:

Achievement Goal Orientation of Community College Mathematics Students and the Misalignment of Instructors’ Perceptions (Velma Mesa)

Teaching Policy Theory and Its Application to Practice Using Long Structured Case Studies: An Approach that Deeply Engages Undergraduate Students (Christopher Walker)