Do you need to be wary about using social media in the classroom? Probably, but we argue that this should not be an impediment. You will ignore social media in the classroom at your peril. If you aren’t going to teach your students to communicate online, then they will do it themselves in their own way without valuable guidance from you. Is this desirable? No!
Social media is another tool that you can use to make your classroom more engaging, relevant and culturally diverse - making learning irresistibly engaging, attractive, seductive, pervasive and sophisticated for all.
There is plenty of evidence to demonstrate that teaching with Twitter creates a classroom of emboldened students. Students who are not outspoken in class seem to love the chance to make their voices heard without having to actually speak. Twitter encourages questions that may have never been asked by students who would not dare to ask them – a fantastic opportunity to change the dynamics of the classroom and engage many more students in personal and meaningful learning.
Social media is a common sense way to keep parents informed. Schools are always looking for ways to bring parents into the classroom and to include them in their child’s learning. This is not an easy task to achieve as parents are time poor and have plenty of other things to do. But believe us, parents are very interested in how things are progressing. Newsletters are fine but a bit impersonal and frankly “old hat”. Set up a blog, get some discipline going in posting to it, get the parents engaged in commenting on your posts and the sooner you know it you will have built another dimension into your teaching, and you, your students and their parents will be the richer for it. Quick, easy, interactive feedback is gold to a dedicated teacher.
School projects have grown a new life and brought new meaning because of social media. Kids can now create projects that are polished, vibrant, dynamic, interactive, and their learning shared with the world. Facebook is so much more than vapid status updates. Take for example a Facebook project where your students use Facebook to follow politicians. If your class is studying the current election, using Facebook to follow politicians on the local, state, and national scale brings a reality and authenticity to the lesson that far surpasses how you might have otherwise tackled the topic. You can even ask students to interact with the candidates, posting questions and getting feedback.
Pinning with Pinterest! This is an easy medium for your students to share likes and interests by posting or “pinning” to their own or others’ boards, images and videos usually with a common theme. This is a perfect way for them to dig deep, focus, explore, grow and refine an interest. This is the stuff of forming and feeding life-long passions and hobbies. This social network has a visual orientation which attracts another type of learner. It is very much focused on the concept of a person's lifestyle, allowing one to share tastes and interests with others and discovering those of likeminded people – quite a social and sophisticated learning experience for your students wouldn’t you agree?
With Google Hangouts kids communicate by video. Up to 10 people at one time can “hangout” in a virtual room. The experience can be as simple or as complex as needed by the task. All your students need is a Google account. Great for connecting classrooms. Imagine a group of primary students spread across different countries participating in a weekly book club meeting, to discuss the book that has been assigned for reading. This is a powerful opportunity for students to understand different cultural perspectives and build tolerance for difference in a world that surely needs it.
Emboldened students, greater parental participation, real authentic learning, awareness of passions and lifestyles and cultural perspective and tolerance – this is what social media offers!
What precautions do you need to take?
These examples of social media in action in the classroom are exciting, inspirational and have great educational potential. Let’s now turn to the things that should happen or should never happen!
When teaching with social media you will want to be confident that you have the privacy issues sorted. Train your students to check all privacy settings and have them articulate the implications of setting privacy settings in the way that they have chosen.
Also pay attention to assisting students to:
- Manage their passwords
- Always assume that everyone in the world will be able to see what they write even if the site limits their posts to friends exclusively – it is important that that they understand this standard for posting
- Be vigilant about cyber imposters
- Be responsible global citizens.
K-12 Digital Classroom Practice Conference
The K-12 Digital Classroom Practice Conference provides a fantastic opportunity to explore the digital technology terrain suitable for using in your teaching in your classroom, including using social media. You have an amazing choice!
If you are just getting started in teaching seriously with digital technology, or you have considerable expertise, you will walk away from this conference with great ideas to take up in your teaching.
A special feature of the conference is the spotlight on social media: the good; the bad; the must dos; and the never do!
The social media up for discussion include: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Flickr, Pinterest, Google Hangouts, Edmodo, Blogs and Wikis, LinkedIn, Padlet, Voicethread, Podcasts.
Learn about using social media in your teaching, and be ready to share what you know.
Register for the K-12 Digital Classroom Practice Conference now at: www.ereg.me/k12dcp