Should Teachers use Social Media in the Classroom?

Guest Post By: Brian Jenkins

Some experts believe the classroom should reflect the world kids live in today. They believe that by incorporating highly popular social media websites into the coursework, kids will enjoy the learning process and learn more. Because technology has become such an integral part of the lives of today’s students, kids demand similar stimulation in the classroom. A recent Pew Research Center report shows that 73% of kids between the ages of 12 and 17 use social networking, which is up from 55% four years ago. Some teachers suggest calling it “academic networking” instead of social networking as a means to orient it more towards the classroom.

 Some teachers use social media as a teaching tool to allow students to learn from experts from around the world. By using social media this way in the classroom, students can connect with other cultures and become more aware of the world.

 Digital Citizenship

 Christopher Lehmann, principal of Science Leadership Academy, a Philadelphia charter school, stated, “I think it is incumbent upon schools to teach smart digital citizenship.” He went on to say, “One way to model digital citizenship is to be there [online] and let yourself be seen as part of that world. It also helps them navigate that space.” He also believes it’s important to embrace the fact that children love social networking. “Social media is part of kids lives. Either we acknowledge it exists and allow ourselves to be part of the conversation, or it’s one more way school becomes irrelevant to kids.”

 Teachers need to monitor students’ use of social media in the classroom. The use of Facebook and other platforms in class can lead to distractions and procrastination because kids may secretly use Facebook to play instead of work. For example, if a student is writing blog posts for a social studies class about an up-coming election, that’s a good thing. But if he decides to use class time to check out what his friends are up to, it’s a bad thing. It’s important to make sure that students are actually “academically networking” while in class. They face a lot of temptation to do other things.

 Specific Applications

 Facebook Study Groups: Some students use this popular Facebook application to work together outside of the classroom. They can work on group projects, discuss assignments, share notes, and help each other prepare for tests.

 YouTube: This super popular video sharing website has a great deal of educational videos on a wide variety of subjects. Teachers have the opportunity to engage students by using a format they enjoy. Also, YouTube can be used as a home for student video projects.

 TeacherTube: TeacherTube is an online community that provides educators with the opportunity to post instructional videos. Teachers can also easily share educational videos with each other.

 HotChalk: An online learning management system, HotChalk is designed for K-12 teachers and lets them reach out to tech-savvy students. They correspond with students, create class websites, and keep track of coursework. Teachers have access to a huge digital library of educational content aligned with standardized curricula. There is a broad selection of videos to choose from to enhance lesson plans and engage students.

 Teachers can use and similar websites to help students prepare for college placement tests by integrating educational video clips into the classroom curriculum. Students can watch video clips and answer questions based on what they saw. It’s a new way for students to learn standard-based materials.

 Social media in the classroom makes it easier for teachers to engage students with course materials. The old chalkboard is quickly becoming a relic!

 Brian Jenkins, a member of BrainTrack’s writing staff since 2008, contributes feature articles about elementary school teaching careers, among other careers in the education field.

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10 Comments + Add Comment

  • Brian,

    Excellent article. Social media will play a huge part in the lives of people for some time to come and it’s important to give students the tools to make living in that world easier. As educators we need to prepare students for the world outside of the classroom and by giving them a background in social media they will have more opportunities for success.

  • Hello There. I found your blog using msn. This is an extremely well written article. I’ll make sure to bookmark it and come back to read more of your useful information. Thanks for the post. I’ll definitely return.

  • Social media is a powerful tool for collaboration. Look at how much communication is happening in the Middle East via Facebook and Twitter as well as Japan. This is the world we live in, not the future, but now! Students, teachers, and administrators need to learn to harness this power for education. Living aboard and working at an international school has been lucky for me, because our school has left options to use Facebook, Diigo, and Twitter open to the faculty. Some of our teachers are following the revolutions in the Middle East on Twitter feeds, organizing classes and clubs through Facebook, sharing high quality websites with Diigo, gathering data with Survey Monkey and Google Forms, and reporting and reflecting on blogs. These are truly amazing times to be learners and if we share in the learning with students, we will all benefit from it.

  • I agree that teachers should incorporate aspects of social metaphoric their curriculum. Why not post assignments on Facebook or use twitter to update videos related to learning. The issue becomes access and there are no great models on how to integrate.

  • I’m impressed, I need to say. Actually hardly ever do I encounter a weblog that’s both educative and entertaining, and let me tell you, you could have hit the nail on the head. Your idea is outstanding; the issue is something that not sufficient people are speaking intelligently about. I am very comfortable that I stumbled across this in my seek for one thing relating to this.

  • This article brought up some great points of which I had not thought of before. We all assume that a child knows how to use social media the “right” way and don’t know the kids don’t until something happens.

    My daughter goes to a charter school, and I will send this article to her teacher. I had never heard of TeacherTube before. As a person who loves to continually learn, I am sure I will be on that channel often!

  • Social Media is here. Great points. It is important for teachers to embrace this technology and model the appropriate use. The only problem is we do have much professional development with these applications and it is very challenging for many teachers with all the responsibilities of teaching to find the time to explore social media on their own.

    Thanks for such a great post!

  • Social media enhances communication.

    That’s the point after all.

    The problem I believe is the point at which you are able to form a thought fully. With social media you get feedback so quickly that your thought ends up being shaped by the people giving you feedback instead of writing out a thought from start to finish.

    This kind of fragmentation that might be a problem.

  • I have one student in my K class who cannot be included in any images. He sits out on skype calls, has his face covered in photos, and seems uncomfortable about it. He is already an ELL student so giving him side activities may seem best but then he misses the extra connections. When time allows, we will use Twitter but the connection doesn’t seem really personal yet.

  • Social media is here to stay, it is a great tool for communication.This is a great article thanks for posting it. My only concern is that the student also need to consider their own thoughts. When does the student sit and think about the major points of the lesson and draw their own conclusions without the noise of the world?

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