Today’s guest post is written by Erika Phyall who currently works in community relations for University of Southern California Rossier School of Education’s online master’s programs. USC Rossier Online provides current and aspiring teachers the opportunity to earn a Master of Arts in Teaching online and a Masters in Education. Outside of work Erika enjoys networking, DIY projects, and spending time with her two dogs.
How many times a day do you use Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest? Social media permeates modern society and has also become a growing presence in the classroom. “Social media is here and we as educators have to acknowledge that,” says Harrisburg University Provost Eric Darr in USA TODAY. With the growing importance of technological literacy, teachers should be ready to integrate social media both effectively and safely to better prepare and engage students. Here are a few steps toward that goal:
Step 1: Assess the Learning Environment
By examining the classroom, teachers can determine which social media tool will work best for their students. Teachers can begin by asking themselves questions such as:
- What age are my students?
- What level of exposure do my students have with social media outside of school?
- What cultural barriers might my students have to social media?
Feedback from students can also help in gaining insight. Many teachers implement surveys that ask students how much time they spend each day using social media and the forms of social media they use and like most. Once teachers have an understanding of their classroom needs, they can begin narrowing down which tools will work best.
Step 2: Research Social Media Platforms
Many options are available, but each one has its own advantages and disadvantages; it is important for teachers to become familiar with these aspects before integrating them into the classroom. More well-known options include Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and YouTube. While these platforms can be great for enhancing communication and supporting class projects, there are other options available for teachers that can offer a more controlled environment. One example is Social Media Classroom, which “provides teachers and learners with an integrated set of social media that each course can use for its own purposes — integrated forum, blog, comment, wiki, chat, social bookmarking, RSS, microblogging, widgets, and video commenting.”
Step 3: Create a Social Media Policy
Setting boundaries is important to establishing student safety. Teachers should draft a set of guidelines that will work best with the school, parents and students. Many models are available for reference, including Tufts University’s social media best practices and guidelines. A teacher will want to outline best practices that will maximize learning potential but also protect students as the classroom expands to include broader influences.
Step 4: Educate Students, Parents, and the School Community about Social Media
It is important for parents and faculty to be included and informed on social media integration in order for teachers to gain their support and help. This will also allow for reduce misunderstandings down the road. Furthermore, students should be instructed on the social media platform they will be using by becoming familiar with its settings and the guiding social media policy.
Step 5: Evaluate Progress Regularly
Teachers should reassess whether the social media they have chosen is meeting their classroom needs. It is also important to review the social media policy. Is it sufficient? Does it protect students effectively? Getting feedback from students and parents in this stage can continue to strengthen communication and help in making the proper adjustments, ensuring that social media use in the classroom becomes more educational.
As education moves forward, the ability to integrate social media platforms into the curriculum and classroom will become paramount to a teacher’s success. With a few considerations and planning, stale classrooms can be revived with more exciting learning opportunities and prepare students for a technology-driven future.
Educators: Is social media in your classroom working or not? Tell us about your experiences in the comment section.