Leaky teaching aka the joys of social media automation as an OER – Guest post by Andrew Smith


[Image CCO Creative Commons]

Author: Andrew Smith, Senior Lecturer in Networking, The Open University

Twitter: @teraknor

Have you ever passed a classroom that had a door ajar and hear the teaching as you walk by? Did you stop and listen, did the teaching leak into your mind? Have you ever spoken to friends in the school canteen and hear about what their teacher said or did in their lesson. Were you jealous, amused, bemused or interested? Did you envy them for their experience? Or maybe think about taking that subject?

Chances are you answered yes to some of the above, as an educator, student or a technologist we are biased and generally find any form of educational experience interesting. Yet, as we move more ever into the realm of the e (as in eLearning). What happens to the campus exchange or the drip drip effect of our teaching.

Kinda interesting isn’t – how can we leak our teaching into the Internet, especially after a decade of social media in a post Web2.0 world. We all talk of OER’s and social media engagement – yet where is the leaky teaching, what do we allow to fall outside of the confine of our own classrooms or online educational experiences.

I frequently ask three questions to myself:

  1. How can I use (or maybe abuse) social media automation and have it do the work for my students?
  2. What freebies from social media can I adopt for my teaching?
  3. How can I reach the otherwise difficult to reach via social media?

What questions do you ask yourself?

We need more teaching to leak out there so that our students can engage when they are disengaged … we can cite the science of the microlearning experience. We know that this is a thing and could be the added opportunity to help students with their studies.

The reality is the tools are there and we can allow the ‘machine’ to do most of it for us. Simply line up our subject specific social media mumble and schedule them to appear as if by magic. You know your teaching, you know your subject. Well, we sincerely hope you do. You know what works best and when. Then simply plan the outputs, as well as any clever thoughts you want your students to consider and hey presto you are a fully automated leaking social media machine.

There are multiple tools, hootsuite, social sprout, buffer etc. Facebook offers many of its own allowing you to plan ahead and make noise in the ether when you could be doing something else – probably something a lot more interesting. We have to understand that the modern student (whomever they are) does not limit their study to confines of your in class content. They are consuming via all manner of channels. We must also consider that new/prospective students look at a number of diverse sources of resource before considering your programme. How is your teaching affecting your recruitment, let alone your in course retention.

It may seem as if I am stating the obvious, after all … it is, isn’t it? Yet, time and time again I encounter educators who give up on social media after a few weeks as they are putting in the daily grind without letting the machine do the work for them?

For my part – I have found the notion of ‘leaky teaching’ has adapted our engagement via Twitter and Facebook for our Network Engineering students as well as on our CyberSecurity MOOC. It has has opened up a way to teach teachers network engineering – bringing a low cost, high impact way of reaching (and teaching) via an otherwise closed eLearning environment.

The thought I would like you to leave with is – it’s not difficult, there is much that can be accomplished with social media automation and the creation of planned leaky teaching content. While preparation is everything – once the social media machine is running. It will gather pace and over time you will notice a cumulative impact.