Pictured left to right, Gina Gibson, assistant professor of digital media, Dr. Barbara Looney, assistant professor of management, and Dr. Mary Caton-Rosser, assistant professor of mass communication recently conducted workshops for helping BHSU faculty integrate social media into their classrooms.
Three Black Hills State University professors recently conducted workshops for faculty focused on helping them stay connected to their students through the use of social media in the classroom.

Dr. Mary Caton-Rosser, associate professor of mass communications, Gina Gibson, assistant professor of digital media, and Dr. Barbara Looney, assistant professor of management, presented workshops titled “Try One New Thing” designed to educate faculty on the benefits of integrating social media tools in their classroom. The workshops were a follow-up to the research the three self-proclaimed Digital Divas conducted over the past year. The professors virtually presented their research during an international conference in Madrid, Spain last year.  

The workshops also included feedback from five BHSU students on their experiences with social media in the classroom.

“We wanted opinions, input and ideas on use of social media use as a classroom tool,” Caton-Rosser said.  “The students also addressed how the perception of social media use for the classroom has morphed over the past few years, from hesitant to more accepting mainly because of its accepted professional use in the field.”

Alyssa Terry, mass communications major from Rozet, Wyo., said the workshop helped her understand that everyone is on a different learning curve and that there are a lot of social media and educational applications out there.

Keynote speaker Annie Woodle, BHSU graduate and adjunct professor of mass communications, introduced a variety of ideas for implementing well-known and not-so-well-known tools to use in the classroom and discussed why the tools are important.

According to Dr. Caton-Rosser, the workshop was a success. “We were encouraged by the strong positive response from faculty from all subject matter,” she says noting the workshop included faculty from a variety of disciplines.

Faculty members developed strategies for applying forms of social media into their classes.  “People were interested, but also had lots of questions on what social media platform to use and why,” Caton-Rosser said. “Facebook use has been very common, but we find that it isn’t always the most helpful. Some participants were just interested in using D2L more efficiently.” Blogs, Youtube, Twitter, and Google platforms were really popular, but there are some more obscure mediums that some faculty members are using, Caton-Rosser said.

Caton-Rosser said a common thread among the variety of applications was the importance of grading student participation via social media. “Instead of simply giving students an interactive voice through the social medium, it’s important to be able to measure and grade work,” she said. “We found that many of the same rubrics and criteria that have been traditionally used may also be applied by simple adjustment to the social-media assignment.”

In addition to hosting the workshop, the professors established a blog for faculty, students, and staff to share their progress over the summer. “We have a goal of some short presentations during Faculty Welcome Week,” Caton-Rosser said. The Digital Divas will continue their research and also plan to do more work with faculty in the coming year.