Social media has transformed the way we communicate, socialize and do business in the 21st century. But social media also has the potential to improve traditional classroom learning. Here are some innovative ideas on how to make use of social media tools in the classroom.
Create a Social Media Page for Each Class/Course
On Facebook, teachers can create pages for their classes to make class announcements, provide updates on class activities and put up assignment deadlines. These pages can provide a good medium for parents to look at what their children are doing in each class.
But some schools use firewalls to restrict the use of Facebook on their official computers, probably to reduce external distractions. That is why Kathy Cook, Director of educational technology, College of Education at University of Phoenix, says that teachers should learn to make good use of Edmodo – the Facebook for schools.
Edmodo provides excellent tools to create a digital classroom. On this social media network, teachers can put up assignments, build up an assignments calendar, upload pictures and send messages to students. The Global Read Aloud feature motivates students to practice reading, public speaking skills and learn to compete with students from other parts of the world. Edmodo has proved to be a very successful endeavor. It now has over 17 million users.
Use Twitter Accounts and Hashtags Creatively
A recent survey conducted by YPulse revealed that 21% of the human population now uses Twitter as their main source of breaking news. This means that Twitter can serve as veritable platform for primary and secondary research. For instance, a professor at the New York University invited renowned journalists to speak to an investigative journalism class of over 200 students. He also encouraged them to provide a live tweet of the interview with the #IJNYU hashtag. In fact, due to the size of the class and the frequency of the tweets, the hashtag became one of the trending topics in New York City. After each guest speakers lecture, the professor told the students to create a summary on the Storify social media channel and turn it in within 24 hours.
Twitter accounts can also be used to tweet questions to a lecturer in order to avoid interrupting the class. Then the lecturer can use the hashtag to gather all the questions and tweet the answers back to the students. This technique also allows students who were not present to ask questions about the topic taught during the lecture.
Encourage Students to Create Blog Posts on Topics Taught in Class
Students can become leaders of thought even while they are still learning in school. Ted Magner, required his students at the New York University to keep a blog while teaching on the Business of Media. This helped each student to ensure that they read relevant articles daily. It also helped them to get familiar with web related subjects such as the use of hyperlinks, how to embed images and how to cite all their digital sources. This exercise provided each student with a lot of useful material to add their portfolios after leaving school.
Social media provides a powerful platform for better teaching and learning within the classroom. Therefore, teachers should be encouraged to use these tools to engage their students for a more fulfilling learning experience.