My Experience Teaching in the Age of Social Media

03/21/2017 07:35 am ET Updated Mar 23, 2017

Too cool for school? Not! Technology has revolutionized the way students learn. Teachers also now have the opportunity to build multi-media quality courses and engage beyond the classroom in unprecedented manners.

Drawing on years of modern teaching experience in higher education across the US and Europe, Nathalie Virem and I share 5 candid facts about teaching in the age of social media:

1) Grading: The tables have turned

Nathalie Virem: Social media is students’ marking system.The tables have turned because they too can hold the red marker pen. I recently found out I have a page on RateMyProfessors.com!

Sissi Johnson: Individuals and businesses are extremely vulnerable online. Reputation is everything, so one can genuinely be concerned about fake testimonials and vindictiveness.

2) I tag, therefore I learn

Sissi Johnson: The course curriculum is no longer rigid, it’s in continuous motion. I like the fact that it’s a collaborative and collective effort. On Instagram, students often send direct messages or tag me on related content I may or not include. Social media can also help visualize and better understand an abstract or complex notion tackled in class.(see below)

Nathalie Virem: Mobile phones ensure an organic and instantaneous divulgation of content. Students are able to take control and manage their learning by choosing what digital platforms and content will best support their learning.

Instagram direct message exchange between Sissi Johnson (author) and one of her students
Instagram direct message exchange between Sissi Johnson (author) and one of her students

3) You are “like”-able

Nathalie Virem: We are not just here to grade papers! There is something incredibly rewarding about receiving notifications of your students vouching for your work and looking forward to the next semester.

Sissi Johnson: Traditionally, instructors have had an overly cold and strict image. Social media humanizes academia. When it comes to communication, the lines can be blurred as the web allows for a very informal tone and unusual emotional proximity. It is heartwarming to know your work is appreciated, one emoji at a time. [laughs]

4) Teaching through the looking glass

Nathalie Virem: Today, new technologies allow for a personal learning environment where students can learn from their teacher’s lifestyle to develop skills around identity management, communication and self-presentation.

Sissi Johnson: Posting content of your private life in the public space comes with responsibility. Whether you are a teacher or student, being intrusive, oversharing or inappropriate will backfire. Even in the world wild web boundaries are still essential, especially within the education realm where authority though being redefined still matters.

5) Your next teaching opportunity is just a tweet away

Sissi Johnson: I recently published a piece that sparked a lot of conversation online: “Why brands should put influencer marketing on pause” . Upon reading it, Lilian Ore, Graduate Adjunct Professor at New York University extended a guest lecture invitation via Twitter for her Advanced Topics in Global Marketing class! While I have just left NYC, thanks to technology, I will be able to teach remotely this week all the way from Paris.

Twitter: New York University Professor extends  guest lecture to Sissi Johnson (author)
Twitter: New York University Professor extends guest lecture to Sissi Johnson (author)

This article was co-authored by Nathalie Virem. Photo courtesy of Sissi Johnson, IFA Paris school & students.

Nathalie Virem is a #1 International Best-Selling Author, Speaker and MBA Professor at California State University. As a certified coach, she helps Fortune 500 professionals and entrepreneurs align their business and life purpose. Connect at www.nathalievirem.com and follow @nathalievirem

Sissi Johnson is a MBA Professor, Writer and Brand Strategist at the intersection of Fashion, Technology and Lifestyle. Dubbed “The Face of Fashion Tech” by Buzzfeed and one of the best Instagram to follow by ELLE magazine, her strategic and creative marketing expertise has proved valuable to the likes of Airbnb. Based in Paris and New York, Sissi has lived and studied in China and Italy.@asksissi

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