I often hear people grumble about social media, commenting about the amount of time their child is “plugged in”. Twitter, Facebook, SnapChat, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, YouTube…the amount of social media available today goes on and on.
Best practices state we must meet students where they are…well guess what??? – They are on social media!!! More than 9/10 teenagers hold at least one social media account (https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/273044). So what are we waiting for as educators? Let’s be creative, purposeful, and current with how and where we meet students where they are!
Many are skeptical as to the benefits of using social media in education, but research shows there are countless advantages in doing so such as:
- Fostering collaboration between students as they use social media to discuss, exchange ideas, and creatively communicate online.
- Enhancing student engagement by providing a back channel for participation for your more timid or reluctant students.
- Preparing students to be college and career ready.
- Teaching creativity – It takes little to no time at all for students to create their profiles. This simple practice gives students the opportunity practice basic design and layout principles.
- Students are going to access these sites anyways; why not infuse educational topics, reminders, and content into their daily routine?
Promoting digital citizenship – A new life skill is learning how to conduct and portray yourself online, let’s use this opportunity to prepare them for live outside of the four walls of our classrooms.
Okay, so we know the advantages of using social media as a classroom tool; but you are probably thinking that your plate is already too full – this is just one more thing for you to do…but it really isn’t…it can simplify your life actually!
- Host an online class discussion, encourage students to tweet responses to each other’s thoughts.
- Use a unique hashtag to create a topic based Twitter feed. These can be very helpful for sending announcements/reminders to a class, parents, or group of courses. (http://www.academiaapps.com)
- Partner up with local government or charitable organizations; use Twitter to reach a broad audience discussing the latest cultural or educational events in the area and encourage others in the community to attend. (http://www.teachhub.com)
- Follow a hot debate or current issues in society through Twitter; have students respond and discuss the events and impacts of the event.
- Share videos related to your course/lessons (engage and educate at the same time).
- Make your own class Facebook group so you can collaborate and encourage discussion among students.
- Students can post questions so that others can easily support and field the questions in real time.
- Increase parent involvement by inviting parents to follow your class Facebook page to stay current with classroom happenings.
• Students can use Instagram to build a digital portfolio.
• Create a scavenger hunt on Instagram. Give students a list of topics they have to find images of on the web and create a collection. (http://www.academiaapps.com)
• Showcase student work or post content from class.
• Share reading recommendations.
- Boost vocabulary by taking snaps of content vocabulary in real-life with the word it describes as the text caption.
- Ask students to take pictures or videos of the content from class being represented in real-time.
- Celebrations – If a student does a great job on a test or win an award add a congratulatory snap to your SnapChat story.
- Send out reminders of upcoming events, quizzes, homework, etc. with a reminder snap.
- Recording memories from a field trip for parent or sick students to stay connected.
- Ask a question prior to class which gives students time to think about beforehand and be prepared to debate about once in class.
As you can see there are countless ways to use social media to increase student engagement and meaningfully enhance classroom content. This isn’t just one more thing on your already full plate….its meeting your students where they are!!
***Note – Please check with your District’s policy of the use of Social Media with students prior to implementing any social media into your classroom.***
Katie Algrim – Director of Innovative Professional Learning