5 Ways Teachers Can Use Social Media
Social media is part of our culture now. Like it or not, it’s just about everywhere—including in the classroom. Today’s students are growing up with tech in their pockets. They’re digital natives who are more familiar and comfortable with digital communication than print, and almost every one of them over a certain age has their own phone.
Teachers’ first reactions may be to ban social media from the classroom because it can be distracting, but this isn’t necessarily the best approach. Instead of condemning social media, teachers can lean into using technology in the classroom and teach students how to use social media effectively, as a communication device instead. Here are 5 tips for making social media an appropriate, positive, and engaging classroom tool.
Don’t Let Them Forget! Teachers Can Use Social Media for Updates & Reminders
Every teacher has problems with students forgetting their assignments, updates, and classroom rules. For educators who are sick and tired of half the class forgetting to turn in their latest essay, using social media could be a great way to post updates and reminders.
Not only is social media convenient for quickly posting reminders as needed, but it’s also a communication tool that students are more likely to use and remember. A note in their backpack could easily get lost, but most preteens won’t neglect to check their social media profiles several times a day.
Side note: this also works well for distributing parent reminders, classroom news, and other information that educators want families to have.
Follow the Hashtags & Market ‘Em
Trends change quickly these days, and even veteran teachers need to keep up with what their students value most, what they’re talking about, and what interests them. One way to do that is to follow certain hashtags on social media to find out what their Gen Z students are really discussing.
Hashtags can also be used to pique students interest in new subjects. By tying curriculum into topics that Gen Z students are already passionate about—like technology or social and environmental issues (56% of Gen Z respondents in one study called themselves socially conscious), teachers can engage their students and teach their curriculum in a way that is more relevant to students’ interests.
Don’t Just Follow, Though – Create Your Own
Hashtags are a great way for teachers to keep up with what students are talking about, but they shouldn’t stop at just following social media discussions. Teachers can create hashtags in their own classrooms to encourage larger discussions and to help students think big.
Creating a hashtag for each class not only helps to facilitate dialogue between students, but it also creates conversational archives that teachers can use in both the present and future to more effectively facilitate positive communication.
Social Media Q&A Discussions
Every student has a different learning style, and mixing things up can encourage students to engage and think about their learning in new ways. Taking the classroom digital and creating virtual discussions or social media groups can help teachers get their students excited about learning and provide collaboration opportunities. Using this format also helps students learn how to communicate appropriately online with their peers.
Teachers, Don’t Forget That You Can Use Tech for Unique Research Challenges
Real-world examples are always the most effective way to get students excited about challenging subjects. With STEM subjects taking on more importance as our world becomes increasingly dependent on technology, there’s no better way to introduce real-world learning than with unique research challenges on social media platforms.
Using platforms like Twitter for assigning quick homework problems and extra challenges, or to provide unique opportunities to observe large-scale behavior and communication are innovative ways to bring learning into the world kids are really living in.
Using Social Media Appropriately
There are a lot of dangers online for kids and teens. Cyberbullying, scams, and predators are all very real threats to students’ health, safety, and well-being. Teachers can help to protect their students by teaching them about appropriate social media use.
Learning how to communicate in a positive, respectful, and constructive way is essential for every student. Since many social interactions now take place online, educators must teach students how to interact appropriately online and how to use social media as a tool, rather than a distraction.
There are so many ways to use social media as a force for good in the classroom. Teachers just need to get creative!