Technological advancements that allow learners to become co-producers of knowledge in the form of creating and participating by communicating, sharing, collaborating, and more has become widely known as social media (Greenhow & Lewin, 2015). With the widespread trend that is social media, our educators and students have the capability to learn and respond to one another in the blink of an eye. Many students are familiar with and are utilizing YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, SnapChat, and more for social consumption. Why aren’t we leveraging social media more frequently within our classrooms for content delivery and discussion?
There is concern surrounding the world of social media due to the amount of access students have within various social media platforms. Not only is there concern about the way in which these platforms would be used by the students in terms of the type of information they would be accessing, but there is also concern about appropriate behavior and communication with other social media users. However, just as it is in the role of an educator to teach appropriate use of a device when using an educational platform, why can we not extend those same expectations into the world of social media? As educators, we have the ability to demonstrate appropriate use and access of social media platforms to benefit student learning, communication, and creativity. Rather than focusing on the “wrong” things a student may be doing within these platforms, let’s explain expectations for appropriate use and begin leveraging social media to benefit our students and our classes.
The first step in leveraging social media for the benefit of your classroom is in providing clear expectations on digital citizenship. Students must be given the appropriate content to help them understand how their behavior on the Internet can have lasting effects. Common Sense Media has appropriate lessons on digital citizenship for students from Kindergarten through 12th grade that can be used to set the ground rules for expectations when using technology within the classroom. It is also beneficial to include students in a class conversation to establish expectations and guidelines for appropriate access to all technology within the classroom context, including social media.
The second step is in selecting the social media tools you would like to utilize, while also determining the age of your students. According to an article by CNN Health, 12.6 is the average age of the United States’ youth that sign up for social media accounts. In truth, 13 is more of an appropriate age, but it is still necessary to receive parental consent on the use of social media for students. Even though this suggests that students from Kindergarten through the age of 13 cannot access social media, there are ways to utilize social media within the classroom, with correct parental consent, and outside of the classroom for communication and sharing with parents.
For the selection of social media tools, it is beneficial to try to select major tools that your students and parents may already be accessing. We will focus on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube in the infographic below.
Social media should not be a “scary” aspect of technology, but it should be used as a way to excite and empower our students’ learning.
Greenhow, C., & Lewin, C. (2015). Social media and education: reconceptualizing the boundaries of formal and informal learning. Learning, Media and Technology, 41(1), 6–30. doi: 10.1080/17439884.2015.1064954
Bio: Kristen Klinger is in her seventh year in Georgia public education. She has served as a middle school Social Studies teacher and an Instructional Technology Specialist for teachers of grades PK-12.
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