Social media teaching can be an incredibly useful educational tool. The social networks students use are conducive to so many facets of modern learning. Things like collaborative planning, data and resource sharing, and progress updates concerning group work all apply with social networks. They appeal to our digital natives, and with social media they become easy to adopt. The prospect of social media teaching can be alluring or repulsive, depending on your understanding of it, and your experience with it.
The truth is, it doesn’t need to be difficult or stressful. For any teacher wanting to broaden connections with students through different teaching strategies, social media is a terrific choice. That said, it pays to do a bit of homework on the subject before diving in. Let’s look at some of the things that are worth considering before making the move to social media teaching in a classroom environment.
1. Ask Good Questions
One of the most important things we can do when looking at a new plan of implementation is beginning to ask well-thought questions. This goes double for social media and technology integration. The journey begins with careful consideration of many different things, such as:
- Where are we now, and what led me to the decision to give social media a shot in my classroom?
- What do I hope social media integration will change in my teaching practices, and in my students’ learning outcomes and level of engagement? In short, what are the benefits I expect?
- What social media platforms would be best suited to the subjects I’m teaching, to my students, and to my current practices and methodologies?
- How much of a learning curve is there for me when it comes to this? Do I have the time to invest? Will I need to ask my students, or even my own kids, for help and guidance?
- Who can I talk to/align with who has had success in teaching with social media, both within and outside my own school and PLN?
- How will I deal with the possible outcome of this not working, and what will my next steps be if it works successfully?
2. Consider the Big Picture
Every media-savvy teacher knows that social media teaching is not just a matter of plug-in-and-go. If social media is going to be a presence in your classroom, it has to be done carefully and in a safe manner. Some of the things to consider are:
- implementing acceptable agreement policies
- a clear system of guidelines for class usage
- security and profile management
- integration with curriculum
These things and more will help you determine the course for how best to proceed with using social media as a teaching tool. One of the best resources you’ll find on the subject is this one featured on Edutopia. If you’ve got any in-depth questions about social media teaching, you’re sure to find the answers there.
3. Look at the Pros and the Cons
Like any new venture, there is a good side and a bad side to it. Just as many things can go wrong as they can go right. Let’s take a look at some of the positives and negatives of using social media in teaching.
- Social media can increase engagement and enhance collaboration.
- It can make learning more enjoyable for students.
- Many social media sites are great for project management, posting portfolios, team communication, and sharing important information.
- It’s a great pathway for teachers/students/parents to stay connected and updated.
- It can be a great platform for teaching kids the importance of digital citizenship skills and mindsets.
- Social media sites can link students to professional communities to help them find jobs, or to find people to consult with on their school projects.
- Social media can be a distraction in class.
- It can be difficult to monitor its usage across a larger group of students.
- It can become an anonymous haven for phishing, flaming, and cyberbullying.
- It can take away from face-to-face communication and interaction.
- It can become a place for students to “hide” from doing work.
- It’s easy to misuse (ex: posting sensitive, harmful, or inappropriate content).
4. Deciding Which One to Use
This can be tricky as well. There are so very many useful social media tools out there Even the big hitters like Facebook and Twitter are more and more “edu-friendly” as they evolve. This is the time where you hunker down and really look at the tools in-depth, and match their features to your current vision.
A good idea is to consider some top social networking platforms and how they are most commonly used in education practices. Here are some titles to get you going in your research, starting with these Big 5:
- 99 Ways You Should Be Using Facebook in Your Classroom
- 50 Ways to Use twitter in the Classroom
- The Pinterest Guide for Teachers
- 10 Ways to Use Instagram in the Classroom
- Teaching With Google+
If you’re looking to explore something that’s off the beaten path, try these social media teaching tools: