Social Media for Educators

IDeaS from the Sandbox presents resources for higher ed instructors interested in social media. These resources focus on social media for instructors’ personal/professional use (networking, professional development, personal learning) and for classroom use (ideas for learning activities that take advantage of the social web).

MCC instructors can contact IDS for more assistance. All material here, unless otherwise stated, is shared under a CC BY-NC-SA license.

Social Media for Educators

Understand the Social Web and Build an Online Personal Learning Network

Presented first on Faculty Development Day March 5, 2014, this presentation is an introduction to social networks and their potential benefits for educators to use as a professional networking tool.  (Press the S key to open the speaker’s notes.)

Inspired to get started? Here’s an overview guide—a suggested step-by-step plan—to becoming a connected educator.


Build a personal learning network through social media

• Start by investigating the network connections (consuming media) of sites like Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest (the latter two are especially good for visual information)

• Gather and curate the information you find. Diigo, Evernote and Pocket are good “storage” sites.

• Share your thoughts on the information you’ve found for others, plus your suggestions and recommendations based on your knowledge and experience. Share and remix ideas to contribute to the digital conversation. My recommended blogging platform is WordPress; you can get a powerful free account through Edublogs is a free, WordPress-based system specifically for educators/classrooms. The focus is on K-12 there, but it could be a good option, especially for using the blog in your class by students, not just you. Blogger is also a useful, free system. It’s easy to set up and run, so it may be a good choice for new bloggers.

• Consider making your teaching materials open. Publish your own ebooks via an ePub maker or iTunesU.

Other resources:

How to search Twitter via hashtags and how to participate in Twitter chats (a YouTube video tutorial by @MCCIDS)

Twitter basics for educators (a LiveBinder collection by @web20classroom)

How to make your social media posts stand out on the web (a formatting guide—backed by stats!—from @TheNextWeb)

• MCCIDS’ pages on Tumblr and Pinterest

Get Blogging with a Free, Hosted Blogging Service

We use for this blog. It offers free cloud hosting, free accounts, great free themes, plugins and widgets (changing how the site looks and operates without having to know any code).

Here are my suggestions to get started, once you have a WordPress account:

• Establish a “brand” — a title (and topic-area focus) for your blog that you can cross-promote elsewhere
• Follow other blogs, reblog, comment — get eyes on your site by being social
• Have a clear navigational hierarchy to the site: About Me and Contact pages are a good idea; add other pages based on post categories
• Include featured images on your posts (for sharability)

IDeaS from the Sandbox welcomes contributions. The following is a guide to posting to our blog once you set up a account and emailed the site administrator ( with your username (or its attached email address) to get an author invite.

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Other resources:

Grow Your Traffic, Build Your Blog (a guide from editors)

Social Media for Use in the Higher Ed Classroom

Social media can be great resources for creating learning activities in a college classroom. This section is a work in progress, but check back soon for more ideas on how to use social media as an educational tool.

Other resources:

5 Easy Icebreakers to Get Students Participating Online

Using Twitter as a backchannel in a college history course (by @derekbruff)