Thursday, June 16, 2016

Social Media in Teaching

There is no doubt that social media is a powerful tool to enable children to connect beyond the four walls of their learning space, or beyond the confines of their school. 

The Education Council has some valuable resources on their website to guide teachers in their use of social media. It is recognised that harnessing the power of social media to allow both learners and teachers to connect and collaborate with other teachers, learners and experts, greatly enriches the learning experience for all. Modelling and giving students the opportunity to engage in safe, responsible and respectful social media use will also help to ensure students grow up using social media in the same way. 

While the power of social media to enhance teaching and learning is only limited by the imagination of teachers some uses that are beneficial include:

  • sharing learning (video, audio, text etc)
  • commenting on the learning of other students
  • collaborative projects with students in another part of the world
  • using hastags to convey key ideas
  • connecting with scientists, authors and other experts - asking questions of relevance
  • learning about other cultures, languages etc
  • using virtual classrooms either for your class or for more than one class
  • meeting diverse learners in shared social spaces
  • collating of ideas and artifacts
  • organising of shared resources
From this (not at all exhaustive) list one can tell the power of social media is (of course) that it is social - based around communication and collaboration both synchronous and asynchronous - and that it is not just limited to one type of media but includes a range of media enabling students to select the best media type by which they can convey their message.
It is important to include parents in the conversations about using social media with students. Depending on their own personal beliefs and experiences parents may see use of social media in a negative or a positive light. Rather, social media itself is value neutral, it is how we use it that can have negative or positive connotations. 

It is important that parents understand the reasons behind why social media is used in the school and the classroom, what social media platforms are being used and how they are being used. When parents sign an agreement on enrollment that they are happy for their child's photo or learning (for example) to be used it needs to be made very clear to them exactly what that encompasses, how this can benefit their child's learning and what safety parameters and expectations are in place to ensure the appropriate level of confidentiality. 

Over time, social media is changing and developing so it is essential to keep parents informed as to how these changes are being adopted in the classroom so that parents are active participants in the process, and can support and model similar appropriate use in their homes. 

Education New Zealand, Teachers and Social Media


  1. Sylvia Duckworth posted a graphic today which showed the correlation between her learning and her use of Twitter. I admit to feeling the same. I've met a wonderful PLN, and this has been augmented by the group I discuss things with here on G+.

    I agree that there can be an understanding gap between parents and the use of social media. But I have seen some great collaboration and connection: my students writing for classes in other countries on their blogs, #kidsedchatnz and #NZReadAloud are but a few.

    I love the beauty of the twitter summary; it's quite an art to summarise a point in 140 characters. A pithy epithet is one of the finest forms of poetic language.

  2. You are right - all valid comments - and don't you love Sylvia Duckworth's graphics :-)

  3. Yes I agree! Love the concise and visual communication on Twitter.