This post is specifically intended to support my seminar given as part of the seminar of the same title, given to my colleagues on the PCHE course as part of the “Expanding your repertoire” special interest session on Wednesday 11th March 2009. I’ll give a brief description of this seminar at the end of this post. The remainder is dedicated to a partial list of some of the most popular/interesting social media tools for learning and teaching.

What is "social media"?

Social media, Web 2.0 (and by extension, Learning 2.0) or whatever you want to call it can be pretty slippery to actually define. Here are a few starting points:


Here are some of the most common types of social media tools currently available on the web, with examples. This is by no means a complete list, but Google should help you if you want more.


A wiki is a collection of web pages that can be edited in-place in the web browser by any user, with little or no knowledge of how to write conventional web pages using HTML. Most wikis allow you to restrict what it means to be a “user”, provide some standard navigational features and record the full edit history of each page. They’re great for collaboratively building a knowledge base on a particular subject, or for organising projects as a group.


A blog (from web-log) is a website based around a series of articles, which are indexed and presented in chronological order. The articles may be as long or short as the author likes, and on any subject. Most blogging platforms provide management tools and an editor which, again, requires no knowledge of HTML. Here are some places to start your own blog:

Social networking

Social networking connects people together, allowing them to share content with friends and friends-of-friends.

  • Facebook — begun for university students, but now available to all
  • MySpace — now popular primarily with musicians and bands
  • LinkedIn — aimed at professional networking
  • Twitter — centred around broadcasting of 140-character status updates, referred to as microblogging; simple and flexible

Social bookmarking

Social bookmarking allows you to tag any page you find on the web, save a bookmark for later and share it with your connections.

Media sharing

Media sharing sites allow you to upload and share photos, videos and types of multimedia content.

Specific educational sites

While all of the above have educational uses and many of them provide specific services for educational users, there are a couple of websites which cater specifically to the educational community.

  • Moodle — A learning management system (LMS) built on Web 2.0 principles
  • Edmodo — A microblogging service (like Twitter) for education

The seminar

The goal of the seminar was to introduce some of my fellow trainee teachers to the potential of social media for learning and teaching, and perhaps infect them with some of my enthusiasm, and also to inform them about the bluecloud project. I began by showing the wonderful video from the Common Craft Show on social media, using ice cream as a metaphor. I then gave a few examples of well-known social media tools and listed the common features, before asking those present to split into groups to come up with ideas for how they could use these new tools in their own learning, teaching or research. We then discussed these together as a whole group, and I demonstrated one way of using blogging by directing them here for further resources.