Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Social Media in the Classroom

In today’s presentation we talked about social media in the classroom.  This is interesting because it seems like social media is everywhere today, but how can we, as teachers, take advantage of the benefits available with social media, without subjecting our classes to the evils of it.  The idea that we could use something like facebook or twitter to have a constant connection with our students, and them to each other, would be greatly beneficial.  Students would not only pool their resources by using these social medias, but also learn an important skill: collaboration.  I found a link that discusses how social media was used at a university in the US, with positive results:  

While this is at the university level, I think the same results could easily be achieved in any high school.  Kids are online anyways, we might as well provide them with some productive outlets online there.
I liked the point our presenter made about how using twitter can help with writing, because with only 140 characters at their disposal, students will be forced to focus in on exactly what they want to say in order to express it in the most concise way possible.

An ancillary benefit of social media in the classroom could be teaching students online etiquette as I think we can all recognize the need for that in today’s online world.  As teachers we could patrol and give feedback to re-enforce good online behaviour and properly deal with bad online behaviour.

I realize that this was given in class(http://www.onlineuniversities.com/blog/2010/05/100-inspiring-ways-to-use-social-media-in-the-classroom/), but I thought I’d highlight a couple of the points I thought were the most interesting to me (as an aspiring English teacher):
#1 - Make literature real. Have students create a Facebook page for a character from literature you are studying
I really liked this idea because it allows students with a lot of license for creativity and is a fun option to typical essays and tests.

#6 - Connect with other classrooms. Collaborate with another classroom, no matter where they are in the world, to expand learning opportunities.
This could really open the class up to new ideas, and expand any lesson in a multitude of ways.

#18 - Tweet famous conversations. Have students tweet imagined conversations between famous literary figures such as Romeo and Juliet, Sherlock Holmes and Watson, or Dante and Beatrice.
Again, this breaks through the norm and gives students a fun alternative.

#26 - Use Twitter to teach journalism. Have students use Twitter to report news in 140 characters or less to practice communicating important information succinctly.
I mentioned this one near the top and I think it could really help student evolve as writers.

#27 - Answer questions. Be available for answering students’ questions via a Facebook page or Twitter feed.
This is a good option because you could have the whole class helping each other out.

#40 - Post homework. Teachers can post homework assignments through Facebook to provide easy access for students and to put the assignment and due date in writing.
With this there could never be any excuses over misunderstood or forgotten homework.

#41 - Classmate connections. No matter the size of your class, having all the students on a social media outlet brings them all together.
The benefit here is that students wouldn’t be tied to there regular clinics and could develop productive working relationships with classmates they aren’t usually eager to spend time with.

#51 - Share book reviews. Students can post their book reviews for the instructor to grade and other students to read on a class Facebook page, or try tweeting a 140-character book review on Twitter.
With this everyone could help improve students work by offering productive feedback.

#53 - Poll the class. Use polls as an interactive teaching tool in class using the Poll app for Facebook or PollDaddy for Twitter.
In an English class you could take the temperature of the class as to how interested they are in a particular novel, and in that way judge if it is something you want to continue teaching in the future.  And you could have fun with it, having students vote on scenarios from the novel or about characters.

#65 - Blog. Create a community blog and share it on Facebook to tell what your class is learning and doing.
Just as we are doing in this class, students could use blogs as journals to accompany the work they are doing in class.  We all love reflections!

I think it is pretty apparent that this is where classes are headed, and I say all the better.  Students will be more attentive, involved, and enthusiastic for our classes when we can incorporate social medias into the classroom.  Not only will this help them to learn, but it should make our jobs easier as well.


  1. I like your comment about how if we incorporate social medias into class we as teachers can also teach students good online etiquette and safety, and monitor improper uses. Students are already using these social media's in their lives outside of school, so we might as well incorporate them into class and to teach them how to use these tools properly and effectively. Also like the point you make about students learning to collaborate through the use of social medias. This skill will become an necessity as they graduate and move onto post-secondary education and the workforce. There are many creative and practical uses of social medias for the classroom and the particular ones you have highlighted from the article are productive, valuable, and would increase student learning and collaboration. I would agree that it is apparent this is direction classes are headed, but I feel there will be many educators, parents, and teachers that will be more than hesitant and will need to be proved the benefits too. SO it will be our job to use these medias positively and effectively with our students.

  2. Excellent job Aaron in outlining that wonderful resource of a website that lists the 100 Inspirational Uses. If you read my last blog, I also reiterated the value of that list in putting forth useful suggestions for implementing social media into the classroom. If any of you haven't done so already, you better add that article link to your Diigo bookmarks.. go ahead and do it now.

    I think we all agree that the main focus of using social media for educational purposes is and will always be proper use. Monitoring use will create more work for us as teachers, but it's a job that we'd already be doing anyway if you think about it. As you point out Aaron and Alanna, by teaching our students proper etiquette, we can hopefully get passed all the improper usage and forge ahead with our lifelong journey of learning and educational bliss.

  3. Like you and Alanna mention, I really believe that it is a teacher's responsibility to teach students online ettiquette and safety. By avoiding social media in the classroom, school divisions are avoiding this responsibility and leaving it to the students to figure out how to use these tools and deal with the consequences of their online actions. Without guidance, students will learn how to exploit these tools for their own social needs, but neglet how to use them for learning. This means social media will continue being a tool for social consumption instead of the means to share individual learning, increase collaboration, and by doing so, connect individuals to better society.

  4. Picked some really good ideas here for the uses of social media, and you also had some very well articulated points on the positive uses of it in the school setting. From reading many other blog posts I feel comfortable saying that most everyone in our class feels very similar about using social media in school, that is should be greenlighted. I am curious to know what we are going to do if we run up against these sites being blocked in our school or if we run into an issue where we just don't have the computers to realistically use some of these sites in a practical manner. Obviously, as teachers we adapt, but since we are all very pro social media and seem to hinge many of our activities or proposed activities exploiting social media this could pose a bit of an issue.