The benefits of social media in education
There are many benefits to using social media sites in the classroom, as well as outside the classroom. Social media platforms are designed to do one thing, allow socialization. Therefore, social media sites promote student interaction and discussion within the classroom. Another benefit is that students tend to find social media "cool" and will become highly engaged in the lessons that do use these platforms.
If you are an educator, you probably already know of many social media websites to help build your professional connections. Many sites like Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest offer educators ways to collaborate with other educators to discuss ideas for the classroom, new research on teaching strategies and even provide teachers with local connections that can help extend job opportunities.
Being safe when using social media
Here are a few tips to keep you safe when using social media as an educator:
- Make sure if you are using it in the classroom, that you've checked with your district to find out if parents need to sign any additional forms.
- Most elementary aged students are not old enough to have an email. Again, check with your district. Many districts now offer a district provided email that parents must okay before using.
- Make sure to keep all content age appropriate.
- Watch your profiles if you are going to use sites like Twitter and Facebook. Many times students will search for teachers and can find information about you that you may not want them to know.
- If you don't want your students seeing certain material on social media sites, then don't post it.
- Be cautious about "friending" your students. Many districts frown upon outside socializing with students.
Social media sites to use in class
Here are my top 2 favorite social media sites that we have used.
SymbalooEDU is a great site that allows users to organize all their commonly used websites into a single interface to quickly access their sites. Here's how it works. Once you have signed up, you can start creating a webmix - which is like a giant wall of tiles that can be customized to become websites you would commonly use. Next, click on a tile and either create or search for your website. You can move and organize your tiles to help group common sites together, as well.
If using this with students, they can access the webmix to find links to commonly used sites or maybe you want them only to be able to look at certain websites for a research project. By allowing them access, they can stay organized and quickly access information.
Padlet is another great web based tool that allows users to create a page that others can collaborate on. Setting up your Padlet is very easy and you can customize your title, description, background and layout.
I created a Padlet activity to use in my classroom. We are starting our unit on the 13 colonies and I always kick it off with a KWL chart. The problem with traditional KWL charts are that they are used for each individual student and many times students do not have the opportunity to discuss them. With Padlet, my students can simply click anywhere on the page and add a comment to the different sections. I left the ability to reply to comments open, because many times my students enjoy discussing what each other already know.