Social Media - The New Teaching Tool?

Michele Steigerwald, FVC Marketing Specialist; Jan 8, 2018 11:53 AM

Outside of the classroom environment, twenty-first century students are engulfed in mainstream social media sites. If educators begin to integrate social media into the classroom, students will be given a new interesting perspective on lessons. The careful and strategic use of social media in the classroom can be a useful tool to both teachers and students. Social media platforms bring current technology to the classroom, as well as engage students through a fun and exciting way of learning.

The key to using social media as a teaching tool is to separate social media from the idea of pure socialization. When used carefully, social media can be a valuable resource that parallels learning objectives. Platforms, such as Twitter and Facebook, can give students and teachers the opportunity to connect in a new and exciting way. Instructors can use social media sites as a means of collaboration and discussion, to generate dialogue, propose and exchange ideas, and boost student interaction. For example, students can create fictional Facebook accounts to take on the roles of characters in a book, or important people in history, and act out their relationships with other fictional or historical characters to demonstrate an understanding of what they are learning.

Incorporating social media into the learning environment can help students build better communication skills and enhance their learning experience. Students who may feel anxious about raising their hand in class may be more comfortable expressing themselves on a social media platform. The use of these platforms cultivates class discussions and fosters new ideas from students who are too shy to voice their opinions out loud. Educators can ask and answer questions via a class Twitter feed, announce upcoming projects or events, and share helpful content. Instructors can even use social media sites as a means of giving out participation or bonus points! For example, if a student posts about something he or she found interesting from the class discussion, he or she can receive class participation points for that day.

Although there are a few cons, such as distraction, associated with social media usage in the classroom, the benefits are endless! By creating structural guidelines of how social media platforms will be used in and outside of the classroom (class and homework assignments), educators can ensure that the privilege of using social media tools within in the learning environment will not be abused by students. A combination of social media and face-to-face socialization can help students learn in an exciting new way, as well as simultaneously preparing them for their futures.

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