When teachers think of social media their minds instantly think of Facebook, Instagram and opening up our students to a dangerous online world. We so often hear of the negatives associated with social media, such as cyber-bullying, online chats, etc, that we can’t help but judge it for its negative press.
A simple definition of social media is ‘users creating and sharing content via various websites or applications.’ Hmm… sounds a lot like redefinition doesn’t it?
Aside from the obvious technology skills, some of the benefits we have experienced include peer sharing and feedback, strengthened classroom community and home-school partnerships.
Involving students in social media is not the easiest pitch to parents and school leadership and we agree that not all forms of social media are appropriate for classroom use. So how can we provide our students with the positive elements of social media whilst supporting teacher knowledge and skills and most importantly the safety of our students? Start small. Think controlled environment. Moderated posts. Limited audience. Clear direction.
We are very aware of online privacy, digital access and as educators we are very aware of developing our students into digital citizens. Here are a couple of our favourite social media tools which will help you to achieve all the benefits without the global audience…unless that’s your aim and then that opens up a whole world too!
- Blogging – This is an easy place to start to build teacher competencies and trust when it comes to online communities, as well as teaching students social media competencies and writing techniques.
- Padlet – An online bulletin board where students can post their thoughts on any topic. From asking questions to collecting ideas to posting refelctions, updated in real time and with a range of privacy settings, the use of Padlet in your classroom is endless.
- Skype Classroom – Begin with skyping classrooms within your school, play a mystery number game for one of your maths sessions. Build your way to skyping local schools and share your learning in a new and exciting way, and if timezones work your way, skype schools nationally or internationally, look outside eachother’s windows, go on a virtual excursion. There are so many teachers out there, keen to make a connection with you.
Just remember it’s all about the learning and maintaining student engagement!
How are you using social media in your classroom?