Monday, September 28, 2015

Making The Most Of Social Media In The Classroom

This post is sponsored by Samsung Business. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Social media often gets a bad wrap when spoken in the same breath as education and learning. Ask around and many folks might consider it to be a time suck or a place where very little learning happens and therefore has no place in the classroom. 

The reality is social media (and digital learning in general) have a place in the classroom And whether we choose to embrace it, or don't, students still will leave our buildings and use it. So what if we embraced it as a medium that is here to stay and leverage it for learning? All the while we could have deep and serious conversations about digital literacy and the ways to use it appropriately.

Social media can provide many benefits to student learning and understanding.  Whether you are an expert yourself, or wanting to learn more, there are some simple ways to introduce social media to the classroom.

It's All About The Hashtag-As I've said many times before, hashtags can be great ways for educators to jump into the world of social media and connecting with other professionals. But they can be very useful in the classroom as well. A class hashtag can serve as a platform for students to share conversations (backchanneling), the teacher to post simple reminders or as a way to gather data. I once had a kindergarten teacher gather weather reports from across the globe to share with her students using a simple hashtag. The hashtag can extend far beyond our own networks into the networks of others, amplifying voices. 

Hashtags are also a great way to track conversations around world events or events that are unfolding in realtime. Conflicts, elections, sports, everything it seems these days has a hashtag and students at all grade levels can review these tweets (all without accounts mind you) to look at trends, propaganda, or investigate the stories behind the headlines. 

"Instagraming" Learning-The fastest growing social media network in 2015 is Instagram, which when you think about it makes sense. Facebook is huge and touches large populations already. Many others either have limited appeal to wide audiences (Snapchat) or have a learning curve that can push people away (Twitter). But Instgram is easy. Snap a picture, add a snazzy filter and share it with the world. 

Besides the way it could be used by leaders or teachers to share images of learning with the community, Instagram could be used in a variety of lessons. Imagine a person from history. What would they take pictures of? How could they tell their story in images? In younger grades, what about a scavenger hunt for geometric shapes or letters? (My first grader did this. She learned lots!) There are lots of simple ideas here and here

Pin A Rose On Your...Pinterest Page-I freely admin I don't understand the appeal of Pinterest. While I've eaten some great things from there and even built a few projects found there, in the classroom I really didn't see a use. Until I started to think about all these educators finding and curating content there around their classroom. Sure I can find all sorts of cute bulletin boards or methods for improving classroom management. But what about taking a step further and using it as a psudo-learning management system for your class. 

Create a board for each unit/topic/standard you teach. Gather up resources and share them with students on your website, Edmodo page or where ever you share stuff like that. Invite students to post what they find as well to help curate the boards further. Or better yet, turn everything over to students. Give them some blank boards and let the students fill them up. These could be shared resources with parents too, providing a valuable set of resources to help them understand the learning that is happening in your classroom and provide a means of help when working with their student at home.

Pinterest not your thing? Not to worry. My friend Adam Bellow has you covered with eduClipper. Similar in thought but educational in delivery, eduClipper is very teacher and student friendly and easy to use! 

Those are just 3 simple ways to think about when wanting to use social media in the classroom. What others do you have? What have you found works well? Leave your thoughts below. 

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photo credit: Collage of Digital (Social) Networks via photopin (license)
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