Social Networking Can be a Vital Classroom Tool
From Facebook and Twitter, to YouTube and TikTok, children as young as 13 are increasingly bringing their Internet savvy into the classroom.
According to a recent study from Common Sense Media, 90 percent of American teenagers, age 13-17, have used social media, 75 percent of them have a social networking site, and nearly one in three teens visit their social networking sites multiple times a day.
Those stats are too big for teachers to ignore.
Integrating social media into classrooms
Teachers across the nation are increasingly taking advantage of students’ social media savvy and are working it into the classroom curriculum. A good example is how teachers are engaging students who are shy about participating in traditional classroom discussions, but who enjoy communicating online. They are encouraged to participate in classroom learning using platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
In addition, teachers can include multimedia presentations in their online curriculum, and solicit immediate feedback from students who also can engage with other students, teachers and even experts in their study field.
Success using web technology
Among the teachers who are already embracing social networking technology in the classroom is Nancy Gowen who recently shared her experience:
I use Edmodo.com as a “Facebook type” discussion board for literature classes in middle school. It looks like a Facebook home page so it is easy to learn and navigate. The students can chat as well and comment on stories and current events that connect with our assignments.
Abbie Chavez also posted a comment:
We use social media to connect as a staff. We post meetings on ‘Facebook Events’ and we keep each other updated online. It works great!
Faced with limited access to large social networks at her school, teacher Rhonda Pena wrote:
We aren’t allowed to access FB, Twitter, or Pinterest at school. However, I have set up a message board through my school webpage that offers prizes to those students that correctly answer monthly math questions.
Social networking tools customized for classroom use
A stumbling block that some teachers might face is that many school districts block on-campus access to YouTube and other national social networking sites that they feel may not be well moderated. But the Internet is teaming with alternative programs, many of which are free, and tailored for classroom use.
Among popular free sources are:
- SchoolTube: A moderated video sharing site designed for K-12 students and teachers
- Twiducate: A secure microblogging site similar to Twitter, but aimed at elementary and secondary school students
- Collaborize Classroom: An app that allows teachers to create a password-protected website to post and update classroom curriculums, and add multimedia, documents and charts.
- Gaggle Apps: Social learning tools designed for K-12 students that include discussion boards, blogs, email, and even a “learning wall” that can all be customized by a teacher.
For more tips and resources for using software for learning, read our curated article collections page for integrating technology in the classroom.