Social media is often brought up as the solution to disengaged students, but suggestions rarely go deeper than “Use Twitter” or “Create a Facebook page.” Simply requiring students to use social media for their class work isn’t enough to create connections – but borrowing an old assignment and giving it a new face might do the trick. James M. Lang suggests using social media to create a new form of the “commonplace book” in “Small Changes in Teaching: Making Connections.” The commonplace book is an alternative to the commonly used journal, a sort of scrapbook of different ideas, connections, bits of text that stood out to students, etc. Lang suggests having students take the last ten minutes of class once a week to work on their commonplace books virtually using note taking software like EndNote or social media platforms like Twitter or Pinterest. Additionally, students could work on the book outside of class and instead, the instructor could use the last ten minutes of class once a week to look at some of the entries all together, to discuss the connections that are being made.
Have you ever tried using social media to create a commonplace book for one of your courses? Can you see a use for this activity in your class?