Digital Learning Day: Part Two

This post was originally commissioned for the Career Academy Blog for the Digital Learning Day. This is part two of three. You can read the original post here.

Digital Learning Day: Part 2

Social media’s impact is felt in the classroom in many different ways. The question for teachers, is what is social media and how do we use it? Social media is used in classrooms now (think of YouTube), but the impact can be much greater than screening some Crash Course videos to your class. Social media can change your teaching, impact your growth, connect your students, and increase communication.

Social media has already impacted much of the teaching that is done relatively frequently. Many teachers are using social media and may not realize it. For instance, anytime we search and use a video from YouTube we are participating in bring social media into the classroom. While this is something that is easy, the impact is great, much like how social media can transform a classroom. One of the greatest areas of impact with social media can be creating a professional learning network, or on demand professional development. Connecting with math teachers across the country can impact your math classroom. Connecting with technology teachers around the world can impact your teaching. Picking up tips and tricks, lesson plan ideas, and strategies can change your teaching style. One of the greatest features of your professional learning network is that you are the one that is able to control it. You turn off the channels you don’t like and follow the ones that you do. Using a site like Pinterest can inspire new ideas and classroom strategies and displays, pushing you to reach further and develop new ideas on your own. With all of this comes important screening and responsibility, but your professionalism will carry you through.

Social media will also allow teachers to connect with parents and students. Social media sites like SnapChat, Twitter, Instagram, and Vine are growing in popularity. If teachers are early adopters of the social media sensations, they can leverage the tools to positively affect the classroom. Post review snippets to SnapChat to reinforce the class. Host a twitter review chat under a classroom hashtag. Post daily pictures of the cool happenings in your class to instagram. All of these will assist a teacher in reaching a larger audience in a comfortable format. This can also help a teacher seem more reachable. If you are not ready to dive that deeply, hit students and parents with a text message using Remind. This will still help to be reachable and connect on a deeper level with your students. These tools will also increase the communication that you have with the parents of your students as well. Many parents are also using social media and can stay in touch with them via social media. An important part to remember is what is okay to share publicly and what is not. Be sure to follow FERPA guidelines. If that seems too daunting, teachers can start a website and a blog to share the happenings of their classroom in a more controlled environment. This will assist in expanding the classroom.

One final way that social media has changed teaching is that it has allowed for teachers to expand their classrooms and connect globally. The classroom has routinely been much like a silo or a closed door meeting, not allowing outsiders in or protecting what is happening. As great things are happening in all classrooms, it is important that we share that information with the community and the stakeholders. Connect your class globally. Show off what is happening in your room and how you are able to leverage the technology, teaching methods, and strategies to accomplish more great things. One way to do this is to sign up for Mystery Skype. Mystery Skype connects classroom teachers to other teachers, and invites the students to participate in an in-depth inquiry based exercise to find out where the other students are from. Students will participate in a cross-curricular exercise of investigation with other students from across the world. It is an experience that has helped many people grow their inquiry levels in their classroom.

While teachers have found social media to be overwhelming or career damaging, the benefits are too great to completely ignore. It is essential that we do not write these tools off as a fad and something that is going away. We must embrace social media like society has embraced the computer and the cell phone. Social media will become ingrained. Take the time to learn and make it the best that you can.