Using Social Media and Game Mechanics Improve Learning

Do you hear what I hear? After reading Social Networking in Schools on the Huffington Post today, I recognized that nearly every project I’ve worked on over the past year has pointed towards a new round of convergence — a mash-up of social media, mobile media, game mechanics, assessment, and various forms of blended or self-directed study in the service of improved online learning.

Of course the issues around using social media, game mechanics and other techniques to improve learning vary according to educational level. The concerns of K-12 teachers and parents are very different from those in post-secondary, professional and corporate settings. One thing that’s clear, though, is that most students get it and benefit from it.

Three years ago, researchers at the University of Minnesota surveyed students ages 16 to 18, in 13 urban high schools in the Midwest. 94 percent reported using the Internet, 82 percent go online at home, and 77 percent had a profile on a social networking site. When asked what they learn from using social networking sites, the students listed technology skills as the top lesson, followed by creativity, being open to new or diverse views, and communication skills (Educational Benefits of Social Networking Sites – University of Minnesota).

More recently, Mashable made a Case for Social Media in Schools, framing their argument around six immutable points:

  1. Social Media is Not Going Away
  2. When Kids are Engaged They Learn Better
  3. Safe Social Media Tools are Available and Free
  4. Replace Online Procrastination with Social Media
  5. Social Media Promotes Collaboration, Not Cliques
  6. Cell Phones Aren’t the Enemy

Their conclusion, “Nobody would dispute that the risks of using social media are real and not to be taken lightly. But there are also dangers offline. The teachers and parents who embrace social media say the best way to keep kids safe, online or offline, is to teach them.”

More starting points from around the web to explore this further:

Care to share your experience?

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