Lee Dunn @ – University of Glasgow
The University of Glasgow School of Education recently established a blended learning course at undergraduate level (initial teacher education). It was the overall aim of the course to expose 70 students to an eclectic mix of exciting ideas within education. This was designed to challenge them. Delivered through the virtual learning environment (VLE), students and teaching staff were expected to engage in professional dialogue by blogging and participating in discussion through social networking platforms such as Twitter (see: Hashtag #MEduc14 and #MEduc15). The course aims to enable students to demonstrate understanding of the foundational content and values of education and to be able to articulate a personal stance towards the discipline. It aims to enable them to engage with conventional and new modes of communication as well as facilitating personal confidence and collaborative styles of working. As part of their assessment, students must evidence their online collaboration through the production of both verbal and visual media e.g. YouTube, WordPress, Instagram etc.
In creating this culture of online discussion and in encouraging students to use Twitter and to write blogs, the course takes a pragmatic look on the use of social media as a professional medium and seeks to protect the newly created digital identities of the students as they begin their career as school teachers. The paper draws from an evidence-based approach and presents data captured through the wider evaluation of the course to describe the use of social media in this context from the perspective of both the course tutors and the students.
Crucially, it makes a series of suggestions which other educators may wish to consider when encouraging students to create virtual learning networks and digital media for teaching, learning and collaboration.