Book by Tanya Joosten
Reviewed By: Kay Hopkins
Academic Advisor
College of Business, Office of the Dean
North Dakota State University

Joosten effectively explores the pedagogy of social media as it relates to communication, an essential part of learning in all classrooms.  Social media in the classroom is relatively new, yet it is continually changing. Often those in higher education face challenges such as not matching an appropriate social media to a wanted outcome, worrying that the students know more about the media than the instructor, that it might become overwhelming, or simply implementing social media because everyone else is trying it. Joosten gives a constructive response to these major issues and several others in a straight-forward, strategic platform designed for instructors in any higher-education discipline. The chapters progress from explaining social media, its relevance to learning, ideas for implementation, to evaluation of that implementation. This book is a purposeful read for instructional technologist or anyone who communicates with students on a regular basis and has stated learning goals or outcomes.  It would be especially excellent for advisors who teach a first year course, or those who want to use media to communicate curriculum or career advice.

Joosten explains that social media, such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Diigo, among others, is a way in which students are looking to communicate with instructors to supplement current methods of instruction. She reiterates several times the important point that the reason [to implement usage of social media] should not be because the technology is cool or popular (pg. 90), but instead should be used to fuel active learning. At a time when retention, engagement and assessment of strategies to increase these constructs are at the forefront of all universities, Joosten highlights the benefit of social media in connection to the improvement of these variables. Additionally, she gives the reader the tools to strategically think through how to best implement these strategies and assess their effectiveness in relation to desired variables and outcomes.

This book contains short, to-the-point chapters and is written in a medium that academics will understand and connect to, but is not so over the top that non-academics will not follow.  Joosten remains positive throughout the text and often writes the reminder that we all continue to learn and being willing to learn is what the culture of these social media tools is all about. She also gives ideas, not commonly thought of, to use social media for learning. In particular, there are examples of implemented social media at other universities that include timely and relevant graphs, figures and tables. These visuals make it easy to translate how social media can be employed anywhere, if well thought out.  Each chapter ends with a ‘things to consider’, which was frankly the best part of each chapter.  The book only got better as it went. It did not go as in-depth in some areas as others, but was sufficient in the points addressed. The later chapters were spot-on in presenting the strategies and best practices promised in the title. 

In a time when there are not many reliable, relevant references on using social media in education, this book is exactly what is needed for assisting the technology novice. It is really directed more at instructors, not advisors, however, it will leave the reader feeling empowered to implement social media in a relevant, effective, and academic way regardless.

Social Media for Educators. (2012). Book by Tanya Joosten. Review by Kay Hopkins. Jossey-Bass. 144 pp., $38, (paperback), ISBN # 978-1-1181-1828-3
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