Many districts block access to Facebook and Twitter on school computers. Others even prohibit teachers from having their own personal social networking accounts. However, some schools are staying ahead of the technology curve and enhancing classroom work by encouraging students and teachers to collaborate within social networking spaces. Utilizing Delicious, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, teachers are finding innovative (and free) ways to connect with their students in virtual spaces where most teenagers already hang out.
Schools such as the Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia and New Milford High School in New Jersey have found great success engaging students via social media. These schools have found that students are more likely to participate in classroom discussions when Twitter feeds and Facebook forums are included as a place to voice their comments and questions. Google Moderator is also a great classroom tool, providing a place where students can vote on which issues and questions they most want to cover in class. YouTube offers teachers a unique opportunity to create their own “channel” where videos and presentations can be posted and viewed by students during or after class (TeacherTube is a good alternative in schools where YouTube is blocked). Delicious, perhaps a lesser known social networking platform, provides students and instructors a way to easily share bookmarked pages, an especially helpful tool for group projects.
Social media wasn’t available when I was in high school, but during college I found it to be a great tool for group assignments. Creating a Facebook or Google group simplified communication among team members and was a huge improvement over long email chains, which can be cumbersome and limit the type of content that can be shared. By creating an open forum where links, documents and videos can be shared, many of those group projects were completed more efficiently.
Schools that choose to embrace social media as a teaching tool should plan carefully and create clear guidelines before getting started. When properly used, social networking sites can reinvigorate a classroom and provide students with a chance to learn how to use social media in a safe and smart way.
For ideas on how to incorporate social media in your classroom, check out the links below:
Have you considered using social media in your middle or high school classroom? Share your ideas below on how to effectively use social media as a learning tool.