How Social Media is Re-Shaping the Classroom

Check out some of the innovative ways that educators are using social media:

Social Media in the Classroom.

This week I was tasked with finding at least 10 examples of how educators are using social media. In a way, this assignment has been weeks in the making. Over the last few weeks, I have connected with educators on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and webcasts. While developing my personal learning network, I have ran into teachers with podcasts, blogs and Youtube Channels. Through those networks, I have been able to communicate with them directly, ask questions and learn so much about how powerful social media can be. Based on my discoveries, there seemed to be three purposes for which social media use continued to be mentioned. In each area, I have been inspired as to how I can share this potential with teachers that I work with.

1. Communication with the outside world
Never before has it been so easy to meet and interact with people from so far away. Why can’t we take a Spanish class and unite them with a class of Spanish speakers that are learning English? With Skype, Facebook, or Twitter they can practice their new language while learning about a new culture. Crisis in the world? A current events class can now find a connection in the Ukraine or Israel and ask them questions about how how they perceive the conflict and how it is impacting their life. Kids can now become international reporters from the safety of their classroom.

2. Communication within the class
We have all experienced class debates or discussions where everyone wants to participate, but not everyone is heard. Certain students can be pushy, others are shy and will always concede to others, it can get loud, some people are quiet and their points are missed. A twitter conversation can be just as instant and in the moment, but it allows an opportunity for everyone to participate. There is no battle over who gets the teachers attention, who spoke the loudest, and there is a written transcript in case anything is missed. Plus, the teacher can take the chat log, pull out key questions and comments to build future assignments or discussions off of. During a traditional discussion, I often find myself so focused on moderating and keeping a civil and respectful environment that I miss so many of the interesting things said. I think this is something any social studies or English class can adopt with immediate success.

3. Sharing
The idea of students sharing their art projects really struck me as so obvious, I can’t believe I never thought of it. Kids love having their work recognized, getting positive feedback, and being inspired. Why stop at art though? Students in our school have made really powerful and informative presentations on subjects ranging from yoga to video game design to Taylor Swift to Puerto Rican culture and everything in between. These projects take days and often weeks to complete. Maybe one or two other students offer some feedback, the teacher grades it and then it disappears. If a student puts such effort into a project, shouldn’t it be shared with the whole community? My guess is there are kids that would be inspired or informed from looking at the projects. Also, if a student knew the project could be viewed by the entire school, they may be more motivated to make it of a high quality.

I am excited and flush with ideas for how to bring social media into my school. This was a rewarding project and really felt like somewhat of a culmination of the last few weeks of meeting so many wonderful people and finding so many educational tools.


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