How to Integrate Social Media in the Classroom January 06 2012
Today’s students are constantly connected. They have their own laptops and smartphones and tablets that give them access to the web at all times. They have various social networking accounts, such as Facebook and Twitter. They’re more likely to send a text or an email or post a comment than make a phone call. They rely on the Internet to provide them with whatever information they seek.
As a teacher, it’s increasingly important to remain current with the online trends of your students. If you’re not in touch with social networking, you’re out of touch with your students, and that’s a position no teacher wants to be in if they hope to do their job effectively. The truth is, there is no way to disconnect our students. You can take away their access to electronic devices and the Internet during class, but they’re only going to log on first thing after school anyway. Perhaps a better idea is to find a way to incorporate their insatiable need for social media into your lessons. Why not try to foster their learning with the tools they already use? If you’re interested in integrated social media in the classroom (and you should be), there are many different ways you can do it.
If you’re reluctant about using social media in your class, and easy way to begin is to encourage your students to examine social media in a report or other homework assignment. You could have them explore their own personal use of social media, or explore how the use of it affects others, including businesses, politics, and more. It could be a simple open-ended personal response to a prompt, or a multi-page report requiring reliable sources and citations. Either way, an essay will help students take a deeper look at social media, and it will provide you with some valuable insight into the way they perceive the Internet as a social platform.
It’s likely that the majority, if not all, of your students have an account. If you want to use Facebook in the classroom, there are many ways to do it. However, be cautious about connecting with your students on such a personal level. Many will have things on their Facebook pages not intended to be viewed by their teacher, and they will be reluctant about “friending” you and allowing you to have access to it. Knowing that, one idea is to create a Facebook page for the classroom, and use it to post homework assignments or study materials. You can encourage students to discuss class topics on the page with each other and with you. It might be a way for them to ask questions, voice their opinions, and post relevant links they find online related to current class topics.
If you want to totally integrate social networking into your classroom, consider encouraging your students to tweet during class. Create a unique #hashtag for your class, as well as a classroom Twitter account, and encourage students to do on-topic tweeting during class. You will get more class participation, especially from the more reserved students who are reluctant to raise their hand. Check out the tweets as they stream and incorporate them into your lecture, by acknowledging comments or answering tweeted questions. Another great website for this type of social media integration is TodaysMeet.com, where you can create one isolated room for your class to post comments to, rather than risking all the other distraction that Twitter can provide.
Lisa Hann finds great delight in writing about technology implemmentation in the educational sector. Lisa is an advocate of using the right tools for the right task and a huge fan of Grammarly grammar checker a fantastic resource for writers at any level.