5 Practical Uses of Social Media in the Classroom

Social Media

(Photo Credit: New York Times)

The purpose of this piece is to offer five practical ways in which social media can be employed in meaningful ways in the 21st century classroom.  Students are actively using social media while they are away from school (and while they are at school) and, therefore, incorporating social media as part of instructional activities enables teachers to increase student engagement in the classroom.  In no way does this piece attempt to suggest that these five recommendations are the only and most meaningful ways to use social media in the classroom.  For the teacher looking for ideas for including social media in his or her instructional activities, this piece presents five ways he or she may find useful. 

1.      Create Class Fan Pages on Facebook.  Classroom discussion activities and assignments can be posted and completed using Facebook Fan Pages.  This is truly an interactive, creative and fun way to have classroom discussions and to allow those discussions to take place beyond the classroom.  For those shy students who are afraid to speak up in class, they may be more comfortable participating in class discussions hosted via Facebook.  For those students who are more vocal in class, they will find that they have a space where they can have full freedom to express themselves without dominating the discourses by consuming too much of the allotted classroom time. Through a Facebook Fan Page, teachers can post announcements and assignments.  When teachers at home and find some interesting resources they want to get to their students immediately, a Facebook Fan Page makes this possible.  Teachers may want to offer students additional tips for assignments they may be working on and a Facebook Fan Page is a good medium to promulgate these tips.

 

2.      Have Twitter Chats.  Teachers can use Twitter to have class discussions and engage others who are across the world in the discussions using hashtags and “lists.”

 

3.      Use YouTube Videos to Supplement Instruction.  Instead of always doing a lecture or explanation yourself, use one already available on YouTube or post one of your own on YouTube.  This helps to disrupt the monotony of how lectures or explanations are traditionally delivered.   

 

4.      Have Students to Create Their Own Blogs.  Assign students to create a blog with frequent assignments to be completed using their blog.

 

5.      Use Facebook Instant Messenger for Student and Parent Conferences.  For parents who may not be able to meet with teachers in person, a conference via Facebook Instant Messenger is a viable alternative.  Instead of always having face-to-face conferences with students, teachers can use Facebook Instant Messenger to conduct conferences with students.  This is also a way students and teachers can connect with one another when outside of the classroom when students may need clarity and help with assignments.   

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

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