Throughout the many years I spent working with ed-tech passionate teachers I learned a great deal on the best ways for utilising social media in the classroom. Teachers use of social media varies depending on the teacher’s level of comfort in sharing personal details with students. It also depends on the students’ age group & school’s culture.
Teachers understand the importance of connecting with their students on social media. After all this is the space where students spend most of their time at. Each social media platform has its pros & cons for teachers. Below is a list of the most common social media platforms used by teachers and tips on how to use them properly
Facebook is the most popular social media platform and teachers use the Facebook Pages feature to create an online community for their students. Teachers advise that students must be encouraged to create their own pages and then invite their teachers to them. This way the teacher is not the authority and students will have less resistance to join the page. It also advocates for peer-to-peer learning. Teachers enjoy being part of their students’ Facebook Pages because they stay connected even after their students graduate.
Instagram is a very sensitive social media space. Simply because it is made of photos and can become a digital bullying space if not managed correctly. Yet teachers understand that such actions can happen with or without Instagram being used for learning. The solution for bullying is awareness inside the classroom & at home. Teachers use Instagram to capture moments that are relevant for their classroom such as; Project demo day, field trips, student of the week picture, birthday wishes, and so on.
Teachers use WhatsApp groups to connect with parents and students. It is very tricky though. Teachers need to make it clear that those groups are only for educational purposes and no spamming activities are allowed. Teachers sometime remove uses from a group for misbehaving. WhatsApp group may become annoying when the input of the group members is not relevant to the topic discussed.
Teachers love twitter. They open discussions on twitter and engage their students in a specific time on a specific # that they create. The joy teachers find in twitter is the creativity of students and how they use such limited typing space to express and link their thoughts. Teachers also engage with each other on twitter # discussions.
YouTube is the best place for creativity. Assignments can have a video part submitted on Youtube. A discussion can happen on each video submitted by the classroom. Teachers can also use YouTube to flip their classroom by asking students to watch the lesson at home and come to the class and reflect on their learning through different in classroom activities.
There are many useful social media apps, to name a few; Snapchat, Flickr, Skype, SlideShare, Google Doc, reddit, Delicious, and more. I believe it is our reasonability to make the social media space rich and informative for our children. We need to support all teachers trying to make a difference on social media and to bridge the virtual gap between students and teachers.