Despite its (somewhat earned) reputation as a source of distraction for students, social media can also play a beneficial role in your course. For example, you could use Twitter to communicate with students or use Facebook as a tool for sharing information and promoting discussion. But social media’s role as a means for communication and connection—the “networking” part of “social networking”—can also prove to be a positive source of encouragement, support, and motivation for students, if and when it’s used judiciously.

In the Instructor’s Resource Manual for Student Success in College: Doing What Works!, Dr. Christine Harrington includes a discussion prompt that encourages students to consider how their use of technology could help or hinder their drive to succeed:

As you know, social connections can be powerfully motivating. Many of these connections take place via technology such as social networking sites like Facebook. Have students discuss ways technology can be used to increase their social motivation to do well in school. Also ask them to discuss the possible pitfalls of this approach. (15)

As you prepare for this discussion, you might also consider how you use social media. Do you find it offers you a means of connection and support? Have you also found that what you hear and read via social media can have a negative effect on your outlook? Consider sharing your own experiences with students as part of the discussion, if you feel those points are relevant to the discussion.


Reference: Harrington, Christine. 2013. Instructor’s Resource Manual for Student Success in College: Doing What Works! A Research-Focused Approach. Boston, MA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.


Have you or your students used social networking as a means of fostering motivation to learn? Do you have an activity you’d like to share? Submit a comment below!