A lot of teachers, and entire schools, dislike social media. Sites like Facebook and Twitter and apps like Instagram are problematic, because they’re viewed as time-wasters for students. The term “social media” itself implies to some that there is no educational use for these tools, so they should be banned in schools.
I also talk to a lot of teachers who don’t directly dislike social media, but still opine that “it’s for kids” and they have no reason to get involved with it.
However, social media has many great benefits for schools. I am working to help teachers in my school understand the potential of these tools. If teachers embraced social media, they would be able to:
1) Engage students on their turf
Isn’t one of the biggest parts of being an educator being able to connect with your students? I’m not saying you have to follow them or like every one of their posts, but if you want to relate to them better you can learn a lot by using social media. Students will appreciate seeing your online presence and you can act as a digital role model for them.
2) Share the learning and reach a global audience
Everyone takes more pride in their work when there is an authentic audience. This is especially true for adolescents. The science of social media proves people thrive on getting “likes” or “favorites” or “retweets”. Want to make learning more meaningful? Want to show off the awesome things your students create? The best way to connect your classroom to the community and world at large is through social media.
3) Build professional connections
The best part about Twitter for me as a teacher is expanding my personal learning network (PLN). I don’t always receive the professional development I need in my school, but with social media I can tailor learning to my needs. There are experts to ask for advice, new technology tools to explore, and never-ending ideas to utilize in the classroom. What’s not to like?
4) Branch out within the school
With over 100 teachers in a building that spans a football field, I don’t get to interact with many people every day. I hate feeling isolated in my classroom, but social media brings the rest of the school to me. As part of this, teachers support one another and have an easy way to ask for help. Also, Twitter happens to be the fastest way to get a response from my administrator.
5) Support 24/7 learning environments
Teachers want students to adopt life-long learning habits. A great way to do this? Post educational content, things that interest you, and what you’re learning outside of the classroom. Model the behavior to your students and recognize them (“favorite” or “retweet”) when they in turn post about learning. It’s amazing the joy it brings a student when a teacher takes notice of their good work outside of class.
6) Reinforce school initiatives online
A great way to spread school initiatives and engage students in them is via social media. Want to spread digital citizenship? Model it for students. How about character education? Demonstrate it online. Better yet, have students post their positive acts using a hashtag so it reflects on the school.
Social media opens the doors of possibilities for improving the 21st century learning environment. Can you think of even more uses?