Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Social Learning by Teens: Increased motivation, dopamine release, social media, and informal learning spaces.

Author David Price, @DavidPriceOBE in Six Powerful Motivations Driving Social Learning by Teens, writes because of the social media space, there has been a profound shift in how knowledge travels. Students' personal learning networks of friends, forum users, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram followers allows for a "lateral spread" (vs. traditional vertical, trickle down) of knowledge and learning socially.

The social space has removed entry barriers and democratized learning, making learning more about "taking action" than "knowing about" (Price, 2015). Tweets and videos that go viral have a scientific reason and the reward of dopamine release which helps increase motivation and "stamp in" memories (Lilian Kantz).

"Do it yourself, do it now, do it with friends, do it for fun, do unto others and do it for the world to see" dominates the social space style of learning according to futurist David Price.

In her article How to Integrate Live Tweets into Your Presentation author Pamela DeLoatch (@pameladel) references  social media research from the Pew Research Center report:

  • 95% of teens aged 12-17 are online
  • 78% of teens have a cell phone and nearly half of those are smart phones
  • 74% of teens access the Internet through a phone or tablet
  • 81% of teens use social media (facebook or Instagram)
  • 24% of teens have a Twitter account. 

Social Media in the classroom: 


If 81% of teens are using social media; Instagram and Facebook (Pew Research Center), a picture is worth a thousand words for educators to tap into a student-centered resource.

Niclole Long @MRSLongFCPS in her blog writes of The Benefits of Instagram for Teachers

Share Pictures of Notes and Work: post a homework board, reminders and assignments. Students can favorite (to save). This is a fast way to get homework out to students with the added attraction of "photos".

Post Photos of Student Work and Accolades: taking photos of student work, activities and projects is a great way to give acknowledgement of student achievement and creating a student-centered Social media sphere in your classroom.

Make Connections and Stay in Touch With Educational Figures: By following other educators and posting "real time" photos of school events like baseball games, this is a great time to slip in reminders of projects or homework.


Research reports that 24% of teens have a Twitter account (Pew Research Center) and this student familarity with technology and social media outside of class makes it easier to integrate and use as a tool in the classroom.

The reward of "dopamine release" that is created in response to social media requests and activity, increases motivation and help "stamp in" memories in the social media learning style ( Lilian Kantz).

In her article How to Integrate Live Tweets into Your Presentation author Pamela DeLoatch, @pameladel recommends creating a general class Twitter account and has put together a guide , The Ultimate Twitter Guidebook for Teachers for the basics of getting started on Twitter.

DeLoatch recommends Tweeting your students before the presentation and let them know of expectations and how to participate.

  • To test for understanding during the lecture, students can send out direct messages with questions and the teacher can set up a simple yes or not Twitter poll. 
  • By encouraging a real-time backchannel using Twitter encourages student to collaborate with their questions and thoughts. 
  • By Tweeting it forward, students share with the whole Twitterspheare and establish a journal of the presentation for future reference. 

Other uses of Twitter in the classroom include:

  • Tweet upcoming due dates and use Twitter as a virtual bulletin board. 
  •  Carroll ISD teacher, Judy Leddy @questdragons at Walnut Grove Elementary uses Twitter to engage with the community and Tweet live projects. 
  • Network with other educators and connect with other classrooms.
  • Ask questions and post supplementary materials. 
  • Provide your class with a live news feed and post videos. 

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