Teens are actively tweeting, posting, liking, and commenting all across social media and there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight. Increasingly, teachers and schools are attempting to leverage the engaging qualities of social media for use in the classroom and beyond – connecting students, teachers, and parents better than ever before. (Best Masters in Education, 2013).
Best Masters in Education (2013) explores the stats of social media use in today’s world. Did you know?
- 96%: of students with internet access report using social networking technologies
- 75%: of 7th through 12th graders have at least one social media profile
- 63%: increase in the amount of time kids ages 2-11 spent online between 2004-2009
- 59%: of students who use social networking talk about education topics online
- 50%: of those who talk about education topics online, talk specifically about schoolwork
- 35%: of schools have student and/or instructor-run blogs
- 46%: of schools have students participate in online pen pal or other international programs
- 49%: of National School Boards Association (NSBA) schools participate in online collaboration with other schools
- 59%: of schools say their students use social networking for educational purposes
- 27%: of schools have an online community for teachers and administrators
- 69%: of American high schools have banned cell phones
As you can see our society is immersed in social media and not only is it being used to interact with friends and family, but more importantly it’s capable of facilitating research activities, professional learning and networking. (Bharti, P., 2014).
The trending use of social media in the classroom has benefits for the educators, parents and students of today. As researched by Best Masters in Education (2013) some benefits educators are experiencing, when using social media in the classroom, include; developing a professional community of educators; encouraging collaboration; exchanging of information, ideas, and “best practices”; exposure to technology-based ideas; encouraging professional engagement, training and continuing education and the promotion of inter-cultural and cross-cultural dialogue. Parental benefits include, an increase in communication between teachers and students, an increase in involvement in the classroom and the curriculum, an understanding of class and teacher expectations and the ability to have transparency for schools and districts. Most importantly, students are experiencing an exponential amount of benefits when their instructors incorporate social media use in their classrooms. The benefits students are experiencing include; learning collaboration skills; a influence in school activities; an increase in “academic” or “educational” networking, which teaches them about responsibility, safety, reputation, and good citizenship; stimulating engagement, discussion, and understanding through the use of Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Skype; the development of 21st century skills; having a positive attitude towards technology; and developing connections between online participation.
“In a recent study of social media sites currently popular among scholars, the most frequently used sites for scholarly work were listservs, non-academic social networks, blogs (read or comment), online document management, media repositories, and wikis.” (Coleman, V., 2013). According to Best Masters in Education (2013) the most popular social networking sites that are being used in schools today are Skype, YouTube, and Facebook.
The growing popularity and the pervasive use of social networking websites among our teens and students is a fact we can no longer ignore. Using social media in education has got such a huge potential and there are a variety of way teachers and schools can leverage the networked power of these tools to help students achieve better. (EdTech Team, 2014).
Although there are countless numbers of social media platforms that can and are being used in education today for a variety of different purposes, I will be sharing with you the ones I intend to incorporate into my own practice and divulge my thoughts on how I will go about using them.
The first social media platform I plan to integrate into my health care assistant courses this upcoming fall is Skype. For my HCAT 111 Health 2: Lifestyles and Choices course I will be using Skype as a tool in which to stream my lectures to another campus. I will be teaching HCAT 111 to students that will be located at two different campuses so for half of the semester I will offering face-2-face sessions at one campus while streaming to the other campus and then I plan to switch my face-2-face sessions to the other campus while streaming to the original campus I offered the face-2-face sessions from. I believe that this strategy will allow me to equally connect with students on both campuses and offer the most beneficial experience to the students. I also plan to incorporate the use of Skype into my HCAT 126 Practice Experience in Home Support and Assisted Living course. For this practicum course my students will be working alongside certified HCAs and I will not be present for any of their shifts after the initial orientation day. By incorporating Skype as a required bi-weekly component of the course I feel that I will be better able to connect with my students this term. Previously I have communicated solely through e-mail with the students, once they begin their practicum, and some students have felt that there was a lack of connection between myself and them. I believe that by engaging the students in a reflective Skype call where we can discuss their practicum I will be able to bridge the gap in connecting with the students better.
Another social media platform that I plan to incorporate into two upcoming Health Administration courses that I will be teaching is Facebook. I have developed an instructor profile on Facebook and plan to set up two separate classroom pages, one for each course. I will be using Facebook as a way to stay connected with my students outside of class and answer any questions they may have regarding course assignments or previous teaching sessions. Facebook will allow me to promote classmate connections and communication between students. Students will then be able to create separate groups on this classroom page for the use in group projects, discussion groups, brainstorming, etc. At the start of the semester I will be creating events for all assignment submission deadlines so that students are able to get reminders of upcoming deadlines. Facebook also offers a large number of educational apps, such as ClassNotes, Flashcards, Notely, Campus Buddy, and CiteMe, which can assist the students in their academic endeavours.
Lastly, I plan to incorporate the use of the Desire2Learn (D2L) learning management system in all of my upcoming classes this next semester. D2L is widely used by educators and offers a great platform which will enable me to share, create and instruct students on. This versatile platform gives me the ability to post assignments, class notes and share relevant resources with the students. D2L allows students to submit assignments and receive their assessment and feedback directly on the site. I believe that by incorporating the use of the above mentioned social media platforms that I will be able to connect better with my students, have more engaged learners and be actively participating in professional growth and development; all of which should lead to an increase in my students’ achievements.
As we look to the future, there are people who have concerns as to whether or not social media platforms are solely innovations with a limited lifespan. We have seen some platforms lose their relevance, such as Myspace or Friendster, as people gravitate towards newer services. (Coleman, V., 2013).
However, academia has reached a tipping point in terms of scholarly communication, collaboration, and the sharing and dissemination of information with those who are trusted. Social media tools will continue to evolve and flourish because they are not so much about the platform as they are about the content and about the credibility of the individuals producing and sharing the content. (Coleman, V., 2013).
To investigate some considerations educators need to be mindful of, prior to adopting the use of social media in their classrooms, and for more information on how you too can start incorporating social media in your classroom check out some of the great articles and videos I used for this assignment in my resources section.