Social Media in the Classroom
I am a big fan of Social Media, as anyone who has ever interacted with me can tell you. So when I was searching through Edutopia for a video to watch, one on Social Media in the classroom was a natural choice for me. In the video, educators discuss how using social media, particularly twitter, has allowed them to share ideas with other classes outside of their school. By sharing a classroom project on twitter, for example, one teacher inspired others in schools around the world to try an Engineering lesson he had created for his kids. In addition to having activities "go viral" in the educational sphere, the classrooms also benefited from social media by allowing teachers to connect with each other to ask questions and get advice using things like hashtags for their school district to connect.
In order to use technology like this in the classroom, a teacher would definitely have to have a certain set of skills. The first would be a knowledge of how to use the media platform that they wanted to utilize in their classroom - that one is a given! Some platforms are simpler than others (I still cannot figure out Vine to save my life), so it's important to know how to properly use your technology of choice.
Beyond that, however, a teacher would need a firm grasp on some internet and social media etiquette, both through common sense and as prescribed by the school district. One would have to be aware of how to set privacy settings so as not to breach the privacy of their students or to allow unwelcome snooping into their own life. They would also need to be aware of school or district restrictions on social media - some districts have policies regarding photos of students, locations, names, and other types of personal information that is regulated or restricted on the internet. As with any innovation in teaching, the safety of the students has to come before anything else.
One resource I have discovered in my time as a student has been Edmodo, a Facebook look-alike for teachers and students. It's designed to give classrooms a secure space to share ideas that has the feel of social media without so much potential for security problems. While students would have to go out of the way of their normal social media use to utilize the site, I think it would be a great resource for teachers just starting with social media integration in their classroom.
If I were to enter a school where I was expected to use social media, I would take advantage of other teachers and administrators to help me understand the social media culture of the environment I was teaching in. The point of social media is to connect with peers and share ideas, so it seems only fitting to me that one should try to connect with peers outside of that media first in order to learn how to utilize it properly. If, however, Twitter in the classroom was an unprecedented idea in my school environment, I would tread lightly at first and consult other teachers' blogs, classroom websites, or forums on the internet to get ideas on how to utilize it safely and effectively.
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As an educator, Abigail Johnson reflects on several relevant topics impacting today's students in mainstream classroom settings.