Here’s a hot potato for you: Should social media be used in the classroom as a teaching tool? Whilst many schools ban the use of smartphones on their premises, the advantages of integrating social media into your lessons are wide-ranging and offer a lot of opportunity for creative learning.
An excellent example is Eddie Woo, a maths teacher in Australia whose YouTube channel has over 500,000 subscribers and more than 27 million views. This isn’t a case of good luck, as Woo has dedicated his spare time to uploading a huge range of fantastically accessible videos – more than 150 so far.
Covering everything from geometry and tangents, to Pythagorean theorem and polynomial division, Woo’s approach to teaching has been applauded around the world as a modern and effective means of getting students excited about a topic that’s often wrongly considered dry and uninspiring.
Mr P’s ICT Blog is another instance of a teacher going above and beyond to instil a lifelong passion for learning in his students. Offering creative ideas to raise standards across the curriculum using technology, Mr Parkinson helps schools to transform the way they teach and enhance the learning journey for children of all ages.
Whilst you do need to be careful how you use social media in a classroom environment, the benefits can be truly inspirational. Below are some tips on how to strike the right balance and add new life to your lessons.
Share projects through Instagram
Being one of the most visual social media platforms out there, Instagram is perfect for sharing classroom activities that have tangible results. Art, science and geography field trips are good examples, with students documenting their progress on individual or shared tasks through multiple-image posts. This shows how the project has developed over time, whether it’s painting a landscape or learning about magnets.
The Instagram account could be run by the teacher entirely; however, by inviting students to upload images and captions too, it will become a genuinely collaborative project.
Bring your students together on Facebook
A closed (private) Facebook group for a class of students with the teacher as the admin will motivate them to get to know each other better and offer support in each other’s studies. An accessible place to ask questions, share ideas and find homework tasks, this platform can run with as much or as little input from the teacher as they deem appropriate.
Stir up curiosity with Twitter
Twitter is a highly versatile platform, so there are multiple ways to include it in your lessons. For instance, a teacher could have a professional account that is used for Q&As during classes or for homework assignments, which will also be available to view afterwards to refresh knowledge. This encourages conversation and can prove an excellent means of inviting even the shyest students to add their thoughts.
Another idea is Twitter stories, which can either be self-contained tales within 280 characters (including punctuation marks and spaces), or a series of updates that form a complete story over a prolonged period. Whether each pupil creates their own or the entire class works together by writing one instalment each, you’ll be amazed how effective this is at giving young people the confidence to express themselves.
Form global relations with other schools
Many schools around the world have class Twitter accounts that are overseen by the teacher. By launching your own, your students can ask questions and share knowledge with others, which can then be amalgamated into a larger project for practically any subject, from statistical analysis in maths lessons, to finding out about community heritage in other countries.
By combining this with other tools such as Google Maps, Skype, translators and blog posts, there really is no limit to what your class can achieve.
Do you use social media in your lessons? Share your tips with us by tagging in #TeachNorthWest.