When teachers think about social media websites, such as Facebook and Twitter, “educational” probably isn’t the first word that comes to mind. However, these platforms have so much more to offer instructors than just a spot to share photos of their lunch. Social media and education actually complement one another very well, and logging into certain websites can enhance the classroom experience.
Here are three ways educators can use social media in the classroom and why they matter:
From teachers to tweeters
Educators with their own Twitter accounts have access to a network of millions of people from around the world. Although some teachers may feel hindered by the platform’s 140-character limit, they should not underestimate this website’s educational value.
Especially helpful to teachers is the ability they have to follow other Twitter users. Receiving regular updates from celebrities can be fun, but getting the latest updates from education news websites or education experts can be quite advantageous. The National Education Association also suggests instructors follow their fellow educators on Twitter. Two teachers on different sides of the country may be able to help one another instantly through a few tweets. Even if educators never reach out to professionals in other states, simply reading their tweets may provide new insight into instruction.
Tune in to learning
Sometimes, individuals visit YouTube to watch one video, and before they know it, they have spent several hours watching funny animal clips. However, beyond all the silly entertainment YouTube can provide a great deal of educational content.
The truth is, YouTube can be a very valuable teaching tool, as long as instructors know what they are looking for. Whether educators are teaching lessons about World War II or the final space shuttle launch, they can find videos to enhance their lessons. If there is some time left at the end of class, maybe instructors can treat their students to one of those funny animal videos.
Here to stay
Teachers need to realize that social media is no fad. Some websites may come and go, but it is clear that people like the ability to connect with one another over the Internet. This is especially true of companies and the customers they work with. These days, it is hard to find a brand that does not have a presence on at least one social media website.
With 46 states and the District of Columbia in the process of implementing the Common Core State Standards, it is more important than ever for teachers to introduce their students to tools they will use in their professional careers. Pupils who begin to work with social media websites as early as elementary school will be better prepared to use them responsibly and effectively in the field of their choosing.
“Don’t fight a losing battle,” Elizabeth Delmatoff, a teacher from Oregon who started a social media pilot program at her school, told Mashable. “We’re going to get there anyway, so it’s better to be on the cutting edge, and be moving with the kids, rather than moving against them.”
Want to learn more about integrating social media in the classroom? Download our free whitepaper, The Educational Promise of Social Media.