What is social media?

Increasing numbers of education professionals are seeing the potential of using these tools to support learning and teaching practices, with many educational commentators suggesting they are creating not only new types of learners, but also new types of learning (Selwyn, 2012). There are a wide variety of tools and services which are considered to be social media and although they have similarities, they often differ in their function and purpose.

Why would I use social media?

There are a number of ways in which social media tools can help to support learning and teaching, these include:

  • Providing student guidance
  • Supporting learning and teaching activities
  • Peer support networks
  • Communicating with peers and tutors
  • Professional development for students and academic staff
  • Research tools

(Beckingham, 2013)

How do I do this?

There are a number of considerations that need to be thought through before looking to use social media tools for learning and teaching. The Academic Practice with Social Media Guidelines help to provide you with an overview of these considerations and some additional areas to think about when you are looking at specific tools. If using these tools for marketing purposes then please contact the Derby Digital Marketing Manager for further advice.

What tools could I use?

Below is a list of the types of social media services which you might want to consider using to support learning and teaching.

  • Blogs – allow you to publish private or public articles. This could be done within Course Resources, PebblePad or via WordPress
  • Micro-blogging – such as Twitter or Yammer help you to share information, opinions, knowledge and resources using only 140 characters.
  • Social networking – such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram allow you to share knowledge and connect with others who share your interests.
  • Social bookmarking – provide you with opportunities to archive, curate, annotate and share a wide variety of online and offline resources.
  • Content curation – allow you to collect together content from around the web in one place, which you can then organise and convert into an attractive interface for others to view.
  • Photo sharing – transferring and distribution of digital images online, enabling you to share their images with others.
  • Presentation sharing – allow you to publish and share your presentation slides online.


Guidelines for Academic Practice with Social Media

Beckingham, S. (2013) Using Social Media in Higher Education [online], (accessed 26 March 2015).

Selwyn, N. (2012) ‘Social Media in Higher Education’, The Europa World of Learning 2012, Routledge. Available from: (last accessed 26 March 2015).