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Does Social Media have a place in the Classroom?

When you enter a classroom you can see the traditional things that we remember from our own school days: desks, books, markers, crayons, rulers, projector, computers,  etc. The things that have changed, are barely visible. “Today, about one-third of United States students utilize a school issued technology device (Nagel 2014).” For teachers, this little change in the classroom can open a door for countless opportunities.

Social Media is a concept that teachers can jump into for the betterment of their classrooms.  It is more than just Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Social media allows for users to share content and engage in interactions. Simple forms of these social media sites are blogs, YouTube, digital classrooms, and even Google Drives. The use of a social interaction for education purposes can allow students a quicker way to communicate effectively in real time (Selwyn, 2012). Traditional lectures have been restructured to a type of flipped classroom. There is teacher direction, but now students can take a hands on approach to their learning.

The question lies, is social media relevant for the classroom? Yes! Social Media is a driving factor for today’s world, why shouldn’t teachers utilize this resource? Not to mention, teach students the correct way to interact with online communication. There are risk factors and different school policies that have to be considered, but as a whole, social media is a positive addition to any classroom.  As a high school teacher for going on seven years, I can see a definite difference in the depth of knowledge that students obtain from online social interaction projects.

To utilize social media effectively, educators must be smart in what they allow students to do. Monitors must be utilized and appropriate actions must be in play. For example, I allowed my freshmen level students this year to collaborate on a research project with a school two states away. In class, we Skyped to formulate a common theme of our research and the structure. From there, myself and the other teacher paired students utilizing Google Sheets with their assigned questions. In the duration of the project, students were allowed to collaborate ideas and work together to form a final report for review by their peers. These projects were monitored in their entirety. My students loved the experience and were very motivated for more projects that allowed for collaboration and communication. 

In education, strategic social media has a place. It is one thing to utilize social media for one purpose, but a new playing field when you can mix and match different forms of social media. For example, this upcoming school year, I am going to assign my students different social media assignments that will lead to an overall project utilizing these different forms. Students will learn multiple media types such as video, text, blogging, and others to mesh together in an advocacy project. They will ultimately publish a piece that will be exposed to public view and have an open dialogue. As a class, we will collectively utilize this project to appropriately converse with publics in an appropriate space, and practice professionalism. Overall, social media can transform a traditional  classroom and push the limits as to what students can achieve interacting online. My future lessons will continue to utilize social media. 

Resources:

Kaplan, A. M., & Haenlein, M. (2010). Users of the world, unite! The challenges and opportunities of Social Media. Business horizons, 53(1), 59-68.

Nagel, David. April 8, 2014.The Journal.  Ed Tech Research. One-Third of U.S. Students use School-Issued Mobile Device.

Selwyn, Neil. World of Learning 2012. Social Media in Higher Education.

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