Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Social Media and the Classroom

Over the last few years, society has seen a social media boom. This boom in social networking has increased the policies for teachers and their use of social media both inside and outside of the classroom. For example, Guilford County Schools have an extensive list of do's and do not's regarding how they are to conduct themselves online.  Professionalism towards the school and towards the teacher as an individual is key. A quote from the policy directly reflects how serious school systems are beginning to take social media interactions, "The lines between public and private, personal and professional are blurred in the digital world. By virtue of identifying yourself as a GCS employee online, you are now connected to colleagues, students, parents and the school community. Use these connections wisely and well. You should also ensure that content associated with you is consistent with your work at GCS and your role as a public school/State employee"(Guilford).  The full  list of procedures and policies can be seen at this website.  Of course policies vary by county and each policy is different. However, strict policies are starting to discourage the use of social media within the classroom.

"The myth about social media in the classroom is that if you use it, kids will be Tweeting, Facebooking and Snapchatting while you're trying to teach. We still have to focus on the task at hand. Don't mistake social media for socializing"(Davis). Never fear teachers of the world, there are ways of incorporating social media within your classroom setting and lesson plans!

1. Educational Social Networking
There are a variety of different social networks geared for students and teachers. Edmodo is an interactive social media platform that allows teachers to post "updates" to students and for students to be able to engage with one another outside the classroom. There is also a turn it in feature, where students have a way of turning in their work. This is helpful because it cuts back on the amount of paper being used as well as giving students the opportunity to learn how to do more with a social network than just "update their status". Other educational social networks include Canvas, a system very similar to edmodo the only difference being that teachers do not update a status. Blackboard and Moodle, used by many college campuses allows for teachers to post assignments and allows students to turn assignments in. There are plenty of ways to use regular social media ie FaceBook and Twitter to engage your students. Teachers use twitter accounts to post homework and they even "live tweet" from their classroom using a hashtag.

2. Applications 
There are many applications that can be manipulated inside the classrooms on iPads and tablets that are effective uses of this version of social media. For example, the Remind app allows for teachers to send reminders to their students about upcoming assignments and that reminder is sent straight to the phone of each student. Dropbox is another helpful applications that allows students to no longer need a flash-drive everywhere they go. Dropbox allows for students to save their work onto a storage system in cyberspace that they can access from any computer, or on their cellphone. I have been in classrooms that have used applications to communicate with a non-verbal student because he recognized the pictures, that student is now semi-verbal.  This application allowed for this child to socialize, a task that seemed unreachable only a year before. Applications may not be a typical form of social media, but they are enhancing learning in the classroom.

3. Skype 

Skype in the classroom is a great form of social media being used to its fullest potential within the classroom setting. Skype is like a virtual field trip, students could learn from someone different and engaging from any part of the world. Skype in that sense brings the world into perspective for students who would not usually get to see anything other than their county or state. In the video to the side, students are connecting with other students not only across their country but across the world. Skype is allowing students to experience the world, Imagine how an experience like that changes the mindset of a child. When they begin to think globally instead of just about the area around them.

4. Pinterest 
From bulletin board ideas, to creative manipulative, to classroom management ideas, ways to decorate your classroom and serves many other functions. Teachers today have been bogged down by teaching the same lesson day after day, year after year. Mixing up the lessons creates a more interesting environment for not only the students, but for the teacher as well. Pinterest offers a variety of examples of ways to decorate the classroom that allows for students to feel engaged. and what teacher doesn't love their classroom to be the best decorated on the hall. Pinterest is a great collaboration of teachers from all different places. It is like going to a conference without having to get out of bed.

More suggestions can be found at websites like this Edutopia site and this University of Phoenix  website. There are many more forms of social media being effectively used in the classroom, and not using the technology allowed to you as a teacher is crippling to the experience of students. As a teacher, it is your job to create a learning environment inside of your classroom. By shying away from using social media and technology inside of your classroom, you are not doing your classroom justice. "Social media is here. It's just another resource and doesn't have to be a distraction from learning objectives. Social media is another tool that you can use to make your classroom more engaging, relevant and culturally diverse" (Davis). 

Columbia Business Times. (2012). Social Media Icons 1.  Retrieved from

Davis, Vicki, (2014, April 13). A guidebook  for social media and the classroom. Retrieved from

Guilford County Schools. (n.d.). Social media guidelines for faculty and staff.   Retrieved from

Skype. (July 2013 3). Skype in the classroom brings together classes in New Zealand and California. Retrieved from