Social media can be classy

The use of social media in the classroom is on the rise at Queen’s. Outlets like Twitter, Facebook, iTunes podcasts and YouTube videos are being invited into lecture halls and used as innovative ways to teach class material. Sidney Eve Matrix’s FILM 240 class is among the pioneers of these new classroom methods.

Other professors prefer to keep things traditional and resist the use of social media in the classroom. Last year, Wayne Cox encouraged his POLS 261 students not to bring laptops to class in order to stay more engaged.

Both views on the use of technology and social media have merit, as good teachers are engaging regardless of the details of their teaching style. No matter how many gadgets and widgets a professor employs in the classroom, student attention can’t be guaranteed unless the professor is a naturally engaging teacher. The value of social media in the classroom depends on how professors think they can best convey information.

It’s ineffective to use social media simply to appear on the cutting edge of the Twitter trend, to procure a “wow” factor or to experiment with cool PowerPoint fade-in effects.

Professors may turn to social media in the classroom believing it will help students identify course material with their personal lives. While that’s an effective way to draw students in, excellent professors still shine regardless of how many YouTube videos and Twitter feeds they show in class.

Technology is what you make of it. It’s impressive Matrix’s teaching method involves applying for grants to experiment with which forms of technology, such as video recording, will be most helpful to students. Social media can also make class material more accessible to students with dominant visual or auditory learning styles.

At the same time, indulging the technology trend and staring out at a wall of students on their laptops can significantly change a classroom’s dynamic. Cox’s vow to put his full energy into laptop-free lectures is evidence professors can be engaging without the use of technology in class.

It’s difficult to measure student engagement accurately, but in the meantime it’s valuable to experiment with various teaching methods. Online discussion forums, electronic clickers, and instant in-class quiz results have revolutionized the way classes are conducted at Queen’s, and will likely continue to do so. It seems we had better get used to them.

All final editorial decisions are made by the Editor(s)-in-Chief and/or the Managing Editor. Authors should not be contacted, targeted, or harassed under any circumstances. If you have any grievances with this article, please direct your comments to

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Queen's Journal

© All rights reserved.

Back to Top
Skip to content