Today, social media is the centerpoint of most people’s lives and impacts the way we live, work and recently, the way we learn.
As per the research from Center for Lifelong Learning (C3L), Universitat Oldenburg, Germany more and more teachers incorporate social media into their classrooms not only to engage students but also to support their educational development. No matter if we like it, social media forms the way how students learn and interact nowadays.
Social media is here to stay for a long time so instead of complaining, it would be wise to leverage it as a learning tool.
The Role of Social Media as a Learning Tool
Although some people have negative opinions about social media, using social media for learning purposes is NOT about how many likes your post has.
Social media, used in a classroom, can be guided and cultivated to provide better learning results and critical awareness. It can also allow students more freedom to connect and collaborate outside of the classroom and experience the globally connected world before they enter the workforce.
Social media platforms can be active learning tools where students take place in learning in their own specific way rather than assimilating information. Social media can shape and present information in a meaningful way and since students are mainly accustomed to social media, it makes the process even more exciting than learning by traditional tools.
Even more, sharing information with other students promotes deeper engagement between students plus it can be a strong motivator as students can put more effort to their work knowing that it will be interacted through social media.
Types of Social Media Tools
There are various social media platforms yet here are some of the most popular ones:
- Google Docs and other collaborative document tools to store and edit data
- Blogs with a comment features to share and discuss details
- Skype to engage more with each other as well as materials
- Facebook to create groups and share information internally
- Twitter and hashtags to encourage open forum and debates
- Pinterest for sharing ideas or inspiration etc.
- Youtube to create course presentations
- Linkedin and other social networks to build connection
Ways to Implement Social Media to Classroom Activities
Google Apps – stay connected anywhere
Google offers a wide variety of helpful tools from Google Docs to Google Classroom which has been extensively used for lectures and classes during the Corona pandemic.
Teachers can create your own Google Classroom where you can have video meetings, create and manage your classes, assignments and grades as well. You can add materials to your Google Drive and create surveys with help of Google Forms for a direct and real-time feedback.
Students can track their classwork and submit assignments online while sharing resources and interact in class stream via email. Google Docs is a great tool as students can learn to utilise various features it offers from formatting options up to share, comment and tag option among many others. Students can also use Google Slides to make presentations or Google Sheets to create data tables or make charts.
The students research different topics and share their findings with the class via Google Hangouts or other tools and further engage in a collaborative learning process.
Blog – leverage the power of blogging
Writing blog posts gives students an opportunity to use and produce digital content – there are different blog platforms such as WordPress, Wix, Tumblr or Medium where teachers can create a class blog.
Setting up a blog is simple and secure – only invited students can see the content. Explain to your students what a blog is and how to get people to follow it and encourage them to find their interests they would like to write about.
Then, explain the elements of research and writing authentic, plagiarism free blogs. It does not have to be always curricular stuff but you can also encourage their creative writing abilities. Give them to actively read and comment on each other’s blogs.
By giving the writing assignments as blogs, you can create an environment around it – you can give points for comments and discussions, giving feedback and more.
Such blogging practice encourages research and develops creative abilities with students. The subject syllabus and any tasks and resources can also be shared on a blog as a central location where blog as a semester assignment can improve students’ writing and critical thinking.
Skype – use video conferencing to teach your students
Skype is the most known tool for people of all ages but it is not just for use with friends or work mates. Teachers have been using Skype to connect with their students as well as to connect the students with others around the globe, aka ‘pen pals’ in the digital age.
You can also use Skype for larger group projects – for example, matching students that attend the same subject can bring a whole new dimension when studying history or science. The teacher can hold a lesson over Skype and share their screen for students to understand better. Since connection sometimes can be unstable, use the screen recorder apps to record the lesson and watch it on-demand for better results.
As social platforms make the world a smaller place, you can contribute by inviting a guest lecturer who would provide a real life perspective on their own field of expertise – that way, students can ask questions they’re interested in and catch a glimpse of some processes related to the guest’s knowledge.
Even more, you can try connecting with other classrooms from across the world and enable students to experience how it looks like to have a class outside your country.
Another good idea is video messaging – it increased in popularity due to recent remote and hybrid school and work, but kids would find it fun and exchange video messaging. In order not to outgrow the educational moment, teachers should create rules for this type of lecture.
Facebook – create a classroom group
Facebook is another social media platform which can be used in your classroom.
Teachers can create a Facebook group for your class as groups have privacy settings and are a safe place to share information online. Be careful before you take this step; you have to make sure that every single student in your class has access to a smartphone, tablet, or a computer. It is mandatory for teachers to also talk to the parents since some of them might not approve their children to have Facebook profiles.
As younger generations love to document every part of their lives, the teacher can take an advantage of this and share photos of class activities or field trips.
There are many more options to try out like Facebook polls where you can easily create polls, class materials for students or post events like field trips with all the relevant details while students can sync their calendars with Facebook.
You can also share educational content, videos and articles from reliable sources related to the topic studied in class. The great thing is that those documents or links are only accessible to the Facebook group.
There are always more ideas on how teachers can use Facebook as an active learning tool – from Facebook Live to stream live lectures, hosting discussions up to creating an official classroom Facebook profile and post updates that all students and parents can see.
Twitter – use it as a class message board
Twitter can be great as a learning tool – if all yoru students have phones with Internet access, it would be great to organize a Twitter discussion during the class – you can come up with a hashtag together which will be related to the discussion and students can do an online research and tweet a post within 15 minutes.
The 280 character limit for Twitter will make students think how to communicate concisely and effectively which can be a beneficial skill to develop for later.
Twitter can help teachers with reminders for assignments or sharing helpful resources for students who can later create discussions around a certain hashtag they’ve created themselves. There are so many education hashtags that students can use and analyze what has been trending lately.
The teacher can ask students to tweet a summary of a book or just set a question for students to answer via this platform.
Another interesting idea is to get celebrities’ tweets and check them for grammar or spelling errors and have them retweet the celebs’ message minus the errors.
Twitter can definitely implement a fun aspect within learning and it is also excellent to stay in touch with both your students and parents via sharing about your class updates.
Pinterest – for student collaboration
Pinterest can be helpful for both teachers to organize resources and students to create studying boards.
You can create a class-specific Pinterest board and save pins relevant to lessons – you can create boards as per a subject and sub-topic boards for weekly lessons. Pinterest can also be useful for students to pin websites, books or videos to a board that will later help them when it’s time to write.
Your students can divide boards as per related topics and follow each other’s collections and later, you can choose together the best resources and make a presentation for the class. For example, you can ask students to choose the most inspiring historical buildings or monuments within your city, collect the facts and create Pinterest boards where they will present as projects for history class.
Another great use of Pinterest is for career tips – you can create a board full of career resources, job statistics or resume tips which will help them to get ready to tackle the future job hunt.
Youtube – create your channel
You can get your students to watch educational videos on a certain topic or listen to informative discussions in class related to the subject topic. YouTube can revive the idea for students to engage with each other and learn something new or pick up knowledge throughout the whole process.
One of the examples is TED Talks – it offers a plethora of lectures from experts as well as educational organizations like BBC’s Open University which has its own YouTube channel containing high quality content.
If you don’t have time to maintain a YouTube channel or a podcast, you can find some interesting and relevant content and share it regularly with students and keep the knowledge flow – you can even play it in class and afterwards organize a discussion about it.
Linkedin – build networks
Linkedin is today’s number 1 business network but it can be used in class as well. Many companies, including schools and universities, are present on Linkedin and there is a large number of official Linkedin groups focused toward smaller niches like colleges, degree programs, etc. which can align with some of your students’ interests.
It is much better to teach your students how to start networking before their job hunt – if they participate in Linkedin now while students, they will have a solid network by the time they graduate or start a job search.
This way, they will learn basic principles of conduct on Linkedin, have access to a network of other students, graduates or faculties all over the country and get introduced to other benefits like webinars, lectures or events dedicated to a certain topic which is of interest to the students.
You can never know when a fellow colleague or a former professor may be able to help you with your life and career so it’s important to learn the process of networking to be ready for later challenges.
Instagram or Flickr – make projects more fun with photos
Students can use Instagram for a photo essay or to present a series of photos while storytelling. Instagram is different from other social media as it can allow students to practice digital storytelling.
Ideas on how to use Instagram are many – for example, if you organize a school trip, assign your students with random hashtags (#nature, #sightseeing, #beach etc.) and ask them to take photos. The hashtags will motivate them to take specific types of photos which you can review later and choose the best ones. Students can create class related Instagram accounts and make their photo essays which will be posted on the Instagram or Flickr profile.
Such projects will make your students realize the potential of social media and how to use them in a meaningful way. If you notice that a certain method does not give proper results, try something different.
Social media has a huge potential, just make sure to use it properly for educational purposes.
Benefits of Social Media in Classroom
Social media and technology are integral parts of our daily lives and implementing these into the classroom feels more natural than ever before.
None of social media is the same – all platforms have their own different ways to be used in a classroom and it can represent a more direct communication tool for students, teachers and parents.
Social media enables more e-learning opportunities as well since online classes have become ‘a new normal’ today – it can train and prepare students to work remotely which is an important lesson where social media can help.
Social media triggers more collaboration in students’ work and helps students to recognize real-world applications of social media.
Replacing traditional learning methods with social media in your classes can broaden students’ creative expression and engage them to work more in the class.
As we live in the technology world, it would be wise to introduce the students to proper usage of social media and prepare them for later when they grow to join the workforce.
First of all, monitor how students use social media during class as these platforms can easily become a distraction. Also, check with your school about the policy regarding the usage of social media in class. Educate your students and explain how important social media can be as an educational tool.
Students already use social media on their own and they usually try to mimic the things they see, many of which are not the best examples.
As a teacher, your duty is to set a responsible example for your students. Educate them on risks of social media and guide them to use it to learn new things and build their good reputation.
It is crucial to understand the impact of social media in education prior to using it and if used with care, social media can positively influence the way each person learns in the classroom.