Let’s face it. Social Media is everywhere and a very appealing means of communication for students. While students may want to socialize, Social Media serves a far greater purpose. It has the potential to build communities that share, network, collaborate, learn, and create. This is the kind of positive classroom environment that teachers want for their students. Here is an inspirational example of a school that uses Social Media to hold class-meeting-style conversations – creating an open and collaborative atmosphere where student voices are heard.
Have you ever discovered an awesome article, teaching tool, or inspirational video by following your friends online? This is exactly how Social Media works. It is powerful. We simply must bring this opportunity to our classrooms in order to:
- connect students to one another for collaboration, accountable talk, reflection, and engaging discussion 24/7.
- share resources, formative feedback, and learning links.
- build a community of learners which includes parents and classrooms worldwide.
Of course, there are plenty of strategies we can use to promote a sense of belonging offline. Yes, we still use them. Social Media should be added to our repertoire of strategies because it will engage students and provide them with real-world critical thinking and networking skills.
Some teachers may want to avoid Social Media because they associate it with negative risks like cyber-bullying and over-sharing. But, here is yet another opportunity to:
- teach responsible use and digital citizenship.
- prepare students with the tools to communicate appropriately online.
- mediate student posts in real-time.
- support students as they learn to market a positive identity for their school community
- support students as they learn to manage their own digital footprint
Lastly, as teachers, we need to dive in and give it a go. There are plenty of resources for getting started. A couple of recent guides for using twitter are here and here. The Ontario College of Teachers professional advisory on the use of social media can be found here.