Using Social Media in My Introductory Global History Course

With class size increasing in an introductory global history course, more academic support was needed to support students achieving high grades and engagement. Universal Learning Design (ULD) provided the guiding educational theory for using this pedagogical approach to make course content accessible through alternative formats and for all students in a class.

Objectives for students enrolled in course included increasing engagement with the learning process through direct involvement with producing and sharing new information related to the course; stimulating learning through use of emerging technology-based learning venues; building a sense of community by involving students in teaching one another; empowering students to become co-producers of the learning process and the outcomes; and increasing measurable student outcomes, such as lower rates of course withdrawal and higher final course grades.

Interactive Social Media Channels Used by Instructors and Students

iPad. Students use iPads to complete readings (paper textbook eliminated), audio and video files, and create a group visual history project through an ePub for their iPad.

Podcasting. For the past five years, podcasts, audio or video recordings delivered automatically to a subscriber through their computer, iPod, or smartphone. Students co-create weekly enhanced audio podcasts to review course material, interview history informants, and create international-themed music programs. The history course podcast is called Then and Now, Weekly podcast episodes provide a review of class topics, exam preparation, interviews with people with life experiences related to class history events, and music reflective of cultures studied during the course. A key for the podcast was that it was co-produced by the course instructor and the students. Individual episodes can be downloaded or free subscription through iTunes. Nearly 200 episodes have been produced during the past five years.

Animoto. Instructor uses online music video software to create reviews of critical slides from the PP presentations for exam review. Students create history music videos of topics of high interest to themselves. Users have the ability to upload digital photos, use the Animoto free music library, add text and title slides, and the online service does the mixing of the videos. Highly professional videos with sophisticated transitions created. Up to 50 free unlimited accounts are available for students in a class each semester. Anyone can obtain a free license to create limited, 30-second music videos. Contact the company to make a request at the web address identified above.

Xtranormal. Instructor uses the online animation software to create short dialogues among historical characters to illustrate major concepts reviews in the course. Educators can obtain an unlimited license for creating the animated videos. Others can make short ones for free and pay a fee for longer ones. An example was created by the course instructor of a fictional dialogue between Adam Smith, an early proponent of capitalism and Karl Marx, co founder of socialism. The short animated video is available through YouTube at

Twitter. Instructor alerts students to relevant news stories related to class topics. The history course Twitter feed is

iPad TV apps. Free apps permit watching during class TV news stories produced in France (France24), Middle East and England with bureaus worldwide (Al Jazeera, BBC).

Wiki Web Page. Students create an exam review web site before major exams. UMN Google Sites is used to host the web site,

UMConnect. Use for online interactive study review sessions before major exams. A previous recorded session is available at

For more information contact David Arendale, Associate Professor, Co-Director Jandris Center for Innovative Higher Education; University of MN, College of Education & Human Development, Postsecondary Teaching & Learning Department, Burton Hall 225, 178 Pillsbury Drive, SE, Mpls, MN 55455; 612-625-2928;;