(in 3.5) #Success! Using Twitter to create networks for employability

Emma Taylor and Kat Low, Sheffield Hallam University

Engaging with social media in learning and teaching is becoming more and more common (Tess 2013) with research showing that using Twitter for educationally relevant activities can increase student engagement (Junco, Heiberger & Loken 2011).  Organisations and future employers of our students are also using social media to engage with others and share information with.  In the occupational therapy (OT) profession the use of social media is being encouraged (Gray 2008) and Facebook and Twitter have become common place with the professional body who use it to communicate with members.  There is a well-established weekly Twitter discussion (@Occhat/Twitter Tuesday) based around topical issues that engage the whole OT community.

This poster demonstrates how  a 3rd year module on the BSc Occupational Therapy course uses Twitter to engage in topical discussion and subsequently allow students to develop new networks which has potential in terms of future employability.  In groups students chose their topic and facilitated #tapit discussions around this, encouraging external participation beyond the cohort.  Discussions brought in contributions from OTs across the country and even as far as California.  Students that were quite prolific tweeters then found they were able to develop contacts that should be useful when they start to search for work.  One group went on to develop their own Twitter campaign #whatisOT/ #operationstealth which resulted in an article being published in the profession’s monthly magazine, OT News.  Their Youtube recording to date has received over 700 views.

Potential employers have been exposed to the energy of these students and the students’ profile has been raised before they start looking for jobs, something that prior to the use of social media wasn’t always possible.