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Social Media in the Classroom: It’s Not Just for Kids Anymore

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It used to be that those in charge of the education system balked at the idea that social media would ever cross over into the classroom. Facebook and MySpace were considered a distraction, and at one point, teachers were asked not to friend their students and to keep any kind of online communication to a minimum. But then the rise of online education began and people started to see the opportunity to engage with their students on terms they understood. Here are some ways schools are tapping into online resources to help teachers and administrators communicate with their students and parents more effectively.

Twitter

Lots of students like using this fast and furious social network. While teachers don’t sit on their Twitter account all day, many teachers are now using the network to engage with students after hours, not to mention parents. When it comes to school events or closings, Twitter has been used by schools to keep their students and parents apprised up to the minute. Check out how Sea Isle Elementary does it.

There are third party services like GroupTweet that tap into Twitter’s API and create tools to help students coordinate with their peers. Now students can connect with their fourth period history class to post questions, talk about their assignments, and keep track of deadlines.

YouTube

College professors are even more so tapped into social media and online resources to connect with their students outside the classroom. In fact, many are in the habit of posting lectures on YouTube. For any student who needs a recap of a heavy lecture or who just couldn’t make it to class, this is a grand slam. Students also have a platform to post questions and do more in-depth research on the subject. Khan Academy started as a simple YouTube channel, and has now grown into a full-fledged nonprofit focused on educating students worldwide.

Instagram

Instagram isn’t just about fashion photos and hyperlapse. Teachers and administrators are using Instagram to showcase cool art projects, school pep rallies, sports events, field trips, even students of the month. Check out how the University of Maryland uses Instagram.

Pinterest

This is a dream network for teachers with creative and unique lesson ideas, classroom decoration, and other cool crafty concepts. But as they get more savvy, teachers and administrators have started to use Pinterest to showcase student projects, event highlights, and more. In fact, many teachers are encouraging their students to create Pinterest boards when working on group projects and brainstorming concepts.

Other

Aside from the popular social sites, there are tons of networks like Edmondo and Twiducate that serve specific educational purposes. Although they’re not nearly as highly adopted as the ones I mentioned, which in turn can confine how teachers communicate with their students, they’re still great for organizing lesson plans and collaborating with other teachers.

The evolution of social media in the classroom is one I am completely in favor. It’s a great way to keep the community informed and engaged, so be sure to use strong share and follow tools on your school’s site. Make it easy for parents and students to find you across multiple social platforms, and remember the #1 tip when using any of these sites: keep it clean and professional at all times.

If you’re a teacher using social sites in your classroom, what tips would you give other educators?

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