Social Media in the Classroom

By July 10, 2013 No Comments

A hot topic these days, social media in the classroom perks the ears of many. Educators, administrators, parents and manufacturers are looking for avenues to incorporate social media for students…but safely and responsibly.

I had the opportunity to participate in the Hack Education Unconference prior to the start of ISTE in San Antonio a few weeks ago, and social media in the classroom was one of the most debated topics I heard. The one thing everyone can agree on is the importance of teaching and implementing social responsibility and digital citizenship. It’s simply not enough to provide an avenue to incorporate social media activities. Everyone involved in a child’s education needs to work together to demonstrate the importance of using social media responsibly, because guess what…it’s not going anywhere.

Check out this very informative infographic created by ASCD for some startling statistics about social media usage.

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An exercise on creating an appropriate social profile, for example, is a great place to start. The importance of representing yourself, your likes, experiences and abilities in a public setting is a skill today’s youth need to be taught. And, that’s simply because social media is part of the real world now. Pretending it doesn’t exist, putting filters on usage and denying access only sends the message that schools don’t truly understand what happens outside of the classroom. More important than preventing student and teacher use, is teaching students how to use it properly and effectively. To think before you post. That nothing is ever really “gone” from the Internet. And, that being human means making mistakes and learning from them.

Another valid point includes the value of responsible use policies within schools and districts. Much like today’s corporate environment, administrators should consider instilling social media policies across the board for educators and students to follow. Not only would this highlight the importance of social as a communications avenue for the future (college, friendships, networking, professional development, career path, etc.), but it would incorporate a proactive social media outlook for students to emulate, value and take ownership of.

The great news is that there are more and more social networking platforms that have been created specifically for students and educators. Using these platforms to teach the proper use of social media is a good way to let kids express themselves in a more controlled environment – showing them the good and the bad, the proper way to comment on other posts and how to conduct themselves within this type of environment. Some of the most mentioned include Edmodo, Moodle and Ning.

I could go on and on about the various uses for social media for teachers and students, but those topics are best saved for another blog post! I greatly enjoyed hearing from @kevinhoneycutt during this session, especially when he said, “even good kids do stupid things when no one is watching…bring the real world into classrooms and teach them what digital citizenship means.”

What do you think? How do you see social media working or not working in the classroom setting?