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Monday, January 17, 2011

7 Ways to Effectively Use Social Media in the Classroom and Examples

To say that social media has become a vital part of today’s world would be an understatement. But social media is no longer just a fun way to connect with friends; it has become a learning tool with endless possibilities. K-12 education is most certainly gravitating towards these 21st century tools because lets face it, if we want today’s children to be educated and ahead of the curve, we need to give them the most current tools to learn. Just as the times are constantly changing, so should schools and their teaching methods because adapting is the only way to assure that students do not fall behind the learning curve.

Here are some exciting and engaging ways to incorporate social media in the classroom:

  1. Connect with other classrooms: collaborative learning can be fun for students and extremely beneficial. Facebook allows for a class to connect with another class in the building or a class across the world to collaborate and learn together. Try Facebook groups to create class discussions - you can even live chat with other group members - no matter where they are.
  2. Keep up with current events: Part of educating students is keeping them up to date with what is happening in the world. What better way to keep students up to date than by using twitter? By using twitter, students and teachers can be instantly updated with the most current events of the world. Reading current event tweets in class can start a class conversation about various real world issues. Students can even contribute to discussions using their own accounts and perhaps a unique hashtag for the class.
  3. Connect with parents: Technology has without a doubt become an integral part of people’s lives. By using social networking sites or Skype, teachers can stay connected with parents to ensure that parents are aware of how their children are progressing in the classroom. Skype can even become a tool to host parent teacher conferences quickly and easily without the necessity to schedule face-to-face meetings.
  4. Facebook book reports: Students can use Facebook to create interactive projects such as book reports and engage other students with what they have learned. Creating Facebook pages for characters is a great example of how students can use today’s technology to communicate in the classroom.
  5. Encourage class participation: Teachers can use Twitter to engage students in class discussion. Learning really takes off when students are engaged with one another, but for some students speaking up in class is difficult. Shyness in the classroom can result in a timid student never sharing what could be great insight. Twitter gives students the opportunity to tweet comments or questions to teachers during a discussion.
  6. 100% student created projects: One Tucson, Ariz., science teacher used Facebook to spread the word about a community service project that was important to students. Students chose a relevant problem in their community and used Facebook to get the word out to make the necessary changes to better their community.
  7. Facebook and twitter as a tool to learn a foreign language: Facebook pages have been created to facilitate conversations in different languages in order to help students practice with native speakers. Here's an example: http://www.facebook.com/pages/French-Language/47934424368

By keeping up-to-date with new social media trends, teachers can enhance their classroom and create a supportive, engaging learning environment. The time has come to allow social media into the classroom rather than fear the possible repercussions of opening the door to social media. We only fear what we do not know—so teachers need to be knowledgeable when it comes to social media to be the best educators they can be.

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