No internet phenomenon has been more prominent in the past decade than social media. We’ve signed up and connected with almost everyone we know and now have a virtual stage to broadcast thoughts and share posts with the world. The social media wave has hit every aspect of our lives and it is only natural that it changes the most social institution of them all – education.
There are a lot of ways social media has changed education and here are the most unusual ways it has done so:
1. Connect Students
Social media is one of the most powerful tools for online activism. If there is an idea out there in the community or if people need a voice to say something, they simply need to sign up on a group and get things moving. Now, students can use this tool to their advantage as well and really create a movement that can help tackle school rules they disagree with or sign online petitions for change. The power to galvanize students should not be underestimated.
2. Define Boundaries
Defining the boundary between professional and personal has always been a struggle in the classroom. When it involves teachers and their students, things could get very complicated and this means a lot of schools are now forced to issue recommendations and guidelines for how teachers can use social media with their students. Some states, like Massachusetts, make it difficult for a teacher to even add a student on Facebook without getting in trouble with regulators.
3. Help Students Communicate With Parents
This is where social media is used as a tool to get the parents, teachers and students together. A lot of teachers use Facebook to create group pages for their classes that can help them communicate with ease. When everyone has a way to express their opinions, life at school becomes a lot easier. The benefits of an online education are also clearly apparent here.
4. Take The Debate Over Bullying to the Next Level
Bullying has been an issue at schools since schools were invented. The only difference now is that a lot of school bullies have new tools to harass with and the teachers are playing catch up with these new forms of abuse. But teachers who can use social media well will find ways to start a debate amongst parents who want to help tackle the issue and also spread awareness about the impact this can have on a young child.
5. Provide New Class Activities
Can students collaborate over a class project to create something simple online? Of course. For a language class the whole class can come up with a crowd sourced novel on Twitter where the first person starts with a sentence and every student adds a new line to the story after. Facebook pages for historical figures is a great idea as well and so is Twitter treasure hunts that can help with what is being taught in class. The only end to the powers of social media is the limits of your creativity as a teacher.
6. Connect Teachers and Classrooms
Besides the amount of time and effort saved by an online education, there are other impacts to consider. Twitter, for example, can help teachers and students stick to a lesson plan, but it can also serve as a means to share jokes and get involved in extracurricular activities. Class wikis or YouTube can help students create a new project from the ground up and collaborate with students from the other side of the planet as well. There’s no better way to learn than by creating something.