In recent years, social media has come to signify the most important way we share information and relate with friends, family and colleagues alike. The powerful effect and pervasive nature of social media has made it become a tool in the hands of educators who now see it as a means to impart knowledge and help drive literacy and education. Teachers, school administrators, instructors and those in the teaching profession are now finding creative ways to harness the power of social media in order to teach and educate learners in a structured and organised way.In this article, we are going to explore ways of using social media for teaching learners.
Social Media for Teaching in the Classroom
Back in the days, social media usage was banned in classrooms, with instructors fearing it could cause unnecessary distractions among students. In recent years, more and more 21st century teachers are gradually waking up to the realisation that social media can be a powerful tool in the teaching process.
Below are some of the ways in which social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and Instagram can be better utilised to serve as vehicles of instruction in and out of the classroom.
Creative Ways to Use Facebook in Teaching
- As a teacher, you can create a closed Facebook group where you post assignments and other group work for your students to tackle. Students may also collaborate on materials on the files section. There are also interactive polling tools that elicit interacting and stimulate tailored conversation.
Lesson: the lesson to be learnt here in the kind of platform is that Facebook groups allow everyone to link as friends as have access to private posts and photos, but the Facebook user interface creates a feeling of genuine friendship among students and learners, allowing those who may not be that chatty in real life to have a say freely.
- You can split students up in teams and ask them to set up Facebook pages where they focus on specific lessons (the Gulf War, Comprehension, how to solve some mathematical problems), and then add relevant links, photos and videos for them to use as resources.
Lesson: through this method, you can see which student is participating in the exercise, and ensure none is skirting their responsibilities. It’s a fun way to learn, and the same time utilizing the powerful tool of social media.
Creative ways to use Twitter in teaching
- One way of employing the use of twitter in in classroom learning is to bring in a guest speaker during career day and ask students to submit thorny questions about career choices via hashtags. Setting up in such a way that they tweet in waves and then encourage them to build off what the speaker has just said.
Lesson: this method teaches younger students how to pay attention and not to interrupt even if they question end up not being picked for consideration.
- Alternatively, you could ask students to pick a skill or personality strength and then demonstrate that quality through a tweet. Or, to make it more dramatic, you could have them personify a literary character, constructing tweets in that fictional character’s style and viewpoint.
Lesson: typically, the classic “explain what makes this character unique” essay with some element of role-playing built into it. Additionally, students get to learn how to shape how other people seem them online, thus helping them to build a positive and strong personality online.
Creative Ways to Use Instagram for Teaching
Instagram too can come in handy as a powerful tool for teaching and learning. There are a number of creative ways to use this social media site to educate young ones and some of those will be explained in this section.
- Instagram can be used to showcase students’ works. Since the platform thrives on multimedia presentations, it is a perfect platform to show off artworks and other special projects on a private and dedicated Instagram account set up by the teacher and open to students’ family members and others in the school community.
Lesson: the lesson here is that social media is now used as a platform to amplify the parent-teacher night praise.
- Another way of incorporating Instagram into the teaching experience is to start a student of the week spotlight. In this instance, each of the students take turns to run the account each week, showcasing their daily lives and sharing photos with the rest of the class.
Lesson: this is yet another creative way of handling the old autobiography assignment usually assigned to students. They can get digital with it and use Instagram to still get it done creatively.
Creative Ways to Use YouTube for Teaching
YouTube too can come in handy as a powerful tool to teach and instruct. As a teacher, you can creatively use YouTube to publish your own educational videos or podcasts. If you are short of time in maintaining the channel, then you can simply search for relevant content on the site and replay during class for students to watch and learn from. After that, the entire class can talk about it in a group discussion.
Creative Ways to Use Flickr for Teaching
Another great social media platform that can be converted to a virtual classroom is Flickr, the photo-sharing social media website. Apart from students using the site to get images for their projects, they can also contribute to enriching the content on the site. You can arrange a field trip complete with smartphones and cameras where students take photos, assign them hashtags. The best photos can then be posted on your Flickr profile. The project will make students see themselves and contributors to the world of internet, instead of simply being consumers of online content.
All in all, while the use of social media in teaching and learning can be a refreshing and great way to share knowledge, care must be taking so that it does not become a destructive tool. While at it, discipline your students and let them know the importance of social media as an educational tool that should be used judiciously. The most thing to keep in mind is that social media can best serve as a vehicle for education and it’s high time its educational potentials are explored.