Using social media as part of vocational education and training (VET) courses can lead to higher levels of student engagement according to new research released today by the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER).
The report Social media and student outcomes: teacher, student and employer views also suggests that, when used effectively, platforms like Facebook and YouTube can promote collaborative learning.
“Based on these examples where Australian VET institutions are actively using social media in their teaching, there’s initial evidence that, when used well, it can lead to better engagement and outcomes for students,” said Dr Craig Fowler, Managing Director, NCVER.
“Teachers can and are using Facebook and YouTube to communicate course information and ask questions, and to provide online spaces for students to collaborate on group assignments and demonstrate new skills they have learned.”
The research, whilst qualitative and limited to a few selected case studies, helpfully breaks new ground in illustrating how social media is being infused into VET teaching practice. It also shows that employers appreciate the use of social media in VET classrooms as it can help them feel more connected to the theory side of a student’s learning.
“According to interviewed employers, social media can play a role in smoothing a VET student’s transition between the learning and working environments in demonstrating practice” Dr Fowler said.
The report points out the importance of developing clear guidelines for both teachers and students around the use of social media, which institutions can do with the assistance of the good practice guide that accompanies the research.
“Guidelines for teachers should provide advice around how social media can be used in their courses, while students need guidelines that outline how to use social media appropriately in a learning environment, especially in regards to privacy.”
It is recommended that guidelines be updated annually to keep abreast of new forms of social media as they are introduced.
Two publications Social media and student outcomes: teacher, student and employer views and the Social media in VET courses: good practice guide are available from www.ncver.edu.au/publications.
This work has been produced by NCVER on behalf of the Australian Government and state and territory governments, with funding provided through the Australian Government Department of Education and Training.