Transforming the Classroom: Engaging Students By Using Social Media as a Pedagogical Tool for Teaching Advocacy

Concurrent Session 3

Session Materials

Brief Abstract

The growth of social media has changed the way people engage in advocacy.  Educators now have an opportunity to help millennial students engage in electronic advocacy using new tools to address ongoing social issues and policy outcomes.  This session explores the usage of technological tools for engagement in electronic advocacy.


Dr. Bullock has several years of experience in the human services field. While working at Atlanta Housing Authority, she successfully assisted families with identifying and moving into mixed income communities. As a clinician at St. Jude’s Recovery Center she assessed and counseled dually diagnosed clients, assisted with developing treatment goals with clients and facilitated groups that focused on the disease of addiction. During her employment at Fulton County Department of Family and Children Services, she worked with children in foster care, as well as, worked with birth families utilizing case management skills, attending court hearings, developing court documents and participating in multidisciplinary team meetings. She earned a doctoral degree in Social Work with an emphasis on policy, planning and administration of human service organizations at Clark Atlanta University. Through her matriculation at Clark Atlanta University, she conducted research that examined teaching effectiveness in higher education, gained knowledge on strategies that strengthen community-based partnerships and developed proficiency as an instructor who promotes lifelong professional growth. Her current research includes technology acceptance in social work education and practice as well as mental health service utilization among college students. Dr. Bullock initiated her career in academia at Kennesaw State University’s Wellstar College of Health and Human Services. As an adjunct instructor of Social Work, she had the opportunity to teach master-level courses in the School of Social Work. Within this capacity, she taught courses such as Clinical Practice with Abused and Neglected Children, Community Mental Health, and Social Welfare Policy to adult learners. Dr. Bullock is currently an Associate Professor at the University of the District of Columbia’s and serves as the Program Director for the BSW program.
Dr. M. Sebrena Jackson is an Associate Professor and Associate Dean of Educational Programs and Student Services at The University of Alabama School of Social Work. She has over 12 years of social work education experience. She is a leader in online social work education. Dr. Jackson has taught across the social work curriculum as well as across social work program levels (BSW, MSW, DSW, PhD). Her primary areas of research interests include two lines of education research: post-secondary education access and success for transition-age foster youth and online social work education. She has published in both areas and presented at local, state, national, and international professional conferences on these topics. She received her BSW from Tuskegee University and her MSW and PhD from Clark Atlanta University. Dr. Jackson is a licensed clinical social worker in the states of Georgia and Alabama. She resides in Tuscaloosa, Alabama with her husband, Dr. Ronnie Jackson.

Extended Abstract

Social networking tools have widened the “civic space,” creating opportunities to reach more people with a greater impact on our most vexing social problems (Nugroho, 2011).  These tools such as email lists, Web sites, message boards, petitions, blogs, social networking, cell phone text messaging, mapping, video and animation, rich site summary, and web-based and mobile applications connect, engage, and distribute user-generated content digitally in a multiway communication model (Boyd & Ellison, 2007; Davis, Deil-Amen, Rios-Aguilar, & Gonzales-Canche, 2012).  These platforms have changed the way individuals advocate, organize, and mobilize support for community causes, “get out the vote” campaigns, and coalition actions (, 2005).  

Social networking tools have widened the “civic space,” creating opportunities to reach more people with a greater impact on our most vexing social problems (Nugroho, 2011). Millennials represent a student population that readily embraces social networking and digital media. Research shows that most college students use some type of social media daily for personal or “school-related” purposes; according to Head and Eisenberg (2009), more than half of them use social networks for “everyday life research” (p. 16). Today’s college students are among “digital natives” (Prensky, 2001, p. 1) who have always known and been immersed in technology. Millennials have also taken part in an educational system that has cultivated a sense of connectedness, community and civic responsibility (Otey, 2013). Networking sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter (Duggan, Ellison, Lampe, Lenhart, & Madden, 2015) and which are used by many millennials provide rich forums that focus on social change and create a modern way to connect individuals to current issues related to advocacy (Maben & Helvie-Mason, 2017). This sense of connectedness and community by millennials coupled with their ease of use with digital technology, create opportunities for educators to help students hone in on their skills to effectively impact marginalized populations.  The challenge however is to cultivate in millennials an understanding of how to use their existing technological knowledge and skills to prepare marginalized populations to harness technology for their own good. 

As innovation continues to expand and ways for educating students consistently change, it is especially imperative that educators strive to prepare students to use new innovations to advance social and economic justice. This session is designed to present a framework for teaching students to effectively use social media platforms to help future clients to engage in electronic advocacy (e-advocacy). More specifically, the framework will present strategies for educators to help empower students in various disciplines to learn the skills necessary to teach clients how to empower themselves.     

Level of Participation:

The session delivery method will be an interactive presentation. The presenters will utilize the online collaboration application, Mentimeter to allow attendees to simultaneously share their current experiences utilizing social media platforms for social advocacy. Additionally, the presenter’s will also present a case study and ask attendees to engage in with one another to develop a hypothetical advocacy campaign using social media platforms. Lastly, presenters will use the Think-Pair-Share technique to allow attendees to reflect and discuss strategies that can be employed to help students engage in social advocacy through social media.

Session Goals:

Individuals attending this session will be able to review the background of social justice advocacy and the current trends regarding e-advocacy. The attendees will also be able to examine a framework to help students use their technological skills to empower marginalized populations. Lastly, attendees will explore the practical usage of technological innovations as tools for engagement in e-advocacy.


References: (2005). AdvocacyDev II convergence. San Francisco, CA, 11-13 July.   Retrieved from

Boyd, D. M., & Ellison, N. B. (2007). Social network sites: Definition, history, and scholarship. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 13, 210–230. doi:  10.1111/j.1083-6101.2007.00393.x

Davis III, C. H. F., Deil-Amen, R., Rios-Aguilar, C., & Gonzalez Canche, M. S. (2012). Social media in higher education: A literature review and research directions. Retrieved from

Duggan, M., Ellison, N. B., Lampe, C., Lenhart, A., & Madden, M. (2015). Social media update 2014. Pew Research Center. Retrieved from

Head, A. J., & Eisenberg, M. B. (2009). How college students seek information in the digital age. Project Information Literacy Progress Report, 7.

Maben, S., & Helvie-Mason, L. (2017). When Twitter Meets Advocacy: A Multicultural Undergraduate Research Project from a First-Year Seminar. International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, 29(1), 162-176.

Nugroho, Y. (2011). Citizens in @ction: Collaboration, participatory democracy and freedom of information –Mapping contemporary civic activism and the use of new social media in Indonesia. Retrieved from

Otey B. 2013), Millennials, technology, and professional responsibility: Training a new generation in technological professionalism. Journal of the Legal Profession, 37(2), 199-264

Prensky, M. (2001). Fun, play and games: What makes games engaging. Digital game-based learning, 5(1), 5-31.