Wednesday 9 May 2012

The Dos and Don’ts for Using Social Media as a Teacher with Your Students

The following post is from a guest blogger.

In this day and age, it seems that almost everything around us has gone digital. In order to keep up with the ever-changing times and remain current, school systems and classroom teachers are experimenting with ways to incorporate social media platforms into their lesson plans and classrooms. People pursuing teaching degrees these days learn ways to integrate technology into their lessons.

While students are most likely already using many of these platforms outside of school, do social media websites like Facebook and Twitter have a potential educational benefit that can be used in the classroom and implemented into their education?

We’ve devised a helpful list for teachers thinking about using social media as a way of engaging their students.

Research the potential social media platforms you’d like to incorporate into your lesson plans. Depending on the objective of the lesson plan, one platform might be better than another for achieving your goal with the students. Learn about what is out there and what will work best for your purposes. Social media can be broken up into about six different categories.
  • Social Networking – Social networking sites usually involve a profile feature and allow you to connect with others who have similar interests. Examples include Facebook and LinkedIn.
  • Blogging – Blogs are ideal for sharing information and allow the user, in many cases, to have creative control. Blogs are useful platforms for holding discussions, as there are typically comment features incorporated into the blog to encourage readers to interact. Examples include Wordpress, Blogspot and Tumblr. 
  • Microblogging – Microblogging is a service like Twitter that allows short updates to be shared with others who are subscribed to receive the update. Another example would be a Facebook status update. 
  • Media Sharing – Media sharing involves any service that allows you to share media such as YouTube, Flickr and Vimeo.
  • Bookmarking Sites – Bookmarking websites help to organize various things found on the Internet, including articles, photographs and videos. Examples of book marking sites include Pinterest and Delicious.
  • Social News – Social news platforms allow users to link to news articles. The more people read or “like” an article result in how the item is displayed, separating more popular items from less popular items. An example of a social news platform is Reddit.
Know the privacy settings of the platform you decide to use. Don’t risk putting your students in harm's way.

Make sure that whatever platform you decide to use is accessible to all of your students. In order to keep the classroom engaged as a whole and fair, all students should have equal access to the social media platform you choose. Students who may not have access to a computer at home may be at a disadvantage.

Be mindful that using social media platforms can lead to inappropriate content. Social media can be a great way to share information, but be know that some of these websites have no filter of what people can post. This should be a major concern.

Understand that these types of websites can easily be distracting. While these sites could potentially be very useful and beneficial, they could also be very distracting. Have a plan for how to avoid these distractions or how to deal with the distractions when they occur.

Realize that social media operates in real-time. It can be difficult to keep up as these sites are constantly being fed and updated.

Know that these platforms can limit face-to-face communication. Perhaps try to incorporate a balance into the lesson plan. One way to do this could be to assign homework that involves using the social media platform at home. For example, if the students have a reading assignment, perhaps their homework could be to post their thoughts to a class blog. Rather than ending the conversation there, a good idea might be to have a discussion the next day in classroom based off of the blog posts from the night before.

For more information about learning outside of the classroom, please visit


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