Using social media in the classroom can be a great way to connect students on a global scale, while utilizing a learning tool that they are already very familiar with. However, it can be difficult for some instructors to figure out exactly how to incorporate it into their existing curriculum. This has made many K-12 educators reluctant to adopt this trend.In this excerpt, the results of a survey of 1,000 K-12 teachers shows that the roadblocks to adopting social media as an educational tool are more widespread and universal than you might have assumed.
Social media is a main form of communication and connection used by today’s students.
Despite the expansion of EdTech tools as classroom resources, educators have not warmed to the idea of integrating social platforms as quickly as other types of classroom technology. A University of Phoenix® College of Education survey conducted online by Harris Poll in April among 1,002 U.S. K-12 teachers finds only 13 percent of today’s K-12 teachers have integrated social media into classroom learning, with an overwhelming majority (87 percent) reporting they have not embraced social platforms. Additionally, more teachers are citing a reluctance to incorporate social media into classroom learning than in 2013 (62 percent vs. 55 percent).
“We are living in a rapidly evolving world of digital and social media, and many students are totally immersed and well-versed in these platforms,” said Kathy Cook, dean of educational technology for University of Phoenix College of Education and former K-12 educator. “For teachers to stay current, keep students engaged and promote learning, it is important for teachers to acknowledge the influence of social media and understand how to use it to the benefit of their students.”
Why the digital disconnect?
A lack of tools and training top the list of educator concerns. Almost all (95 percent) of K-12 teachers say they have had some level of training related to integrating technology in the classroom; however, more than half (62 percent) have had minimal or no training in the area of interacting with students and parents through social media. Nearly half (48 percent) of K-12 teachers express the desire to learn more about integrating technology into the classroom.
K-12 teachers raise many concerns, with four-in-five (82 percent) worrying about conflicts that can occur from using social media with their students and/or parents, and more than half (59 percent) stating use of personal tech devices outside the classroom makes it more difficult for students to pay attention in a group setting in the classroom. Twenty percent have also felt intimidated by students’ knowledge/use of technology devices.
“Social media is here to stay, so it is critical to invest in our educators through expanded training,” said Cook. According to Cook, training extends beyond providing educators tools to integrate social media into the classroom. In addition to being prepared to use social media as a learning tool, teachers also need to be able to teach students to be responsible with their online behavior.
Tips for teachers in a digital world
As the 2015-16 school year starts, Cook suggests the following additional tips for K-12 teachers to help them integrate social media into their classrooms to supplement school- or district-sponsored resources.
- Create student social media guidelines. If your school or district has guidelines for social media use, make sure you and your students understand them completely and are following the guidelines. If your school or district does not currently have guidelines for social media use, consider developing some.
- Try “closed” social media sites. Edmodo, TodaysMeet and other sites allow safe and secure social media experiences in a smaller school environment. You can also create private blogs or use sites such as Kidblogs or Edublogs, which limit access and comment abilities.
- Connect with other classrooms around the world. Projects such as Global Read Aloud andSkype in the Classroom allow you to connect students in your classroom with other students worldwide.
- Connect with experts worldwide. Social media tools can help you bring a variety of experts into your classroom so students can learn directly from people in the field they are studying. You can search and connect with experts on Twitter, Skype and other social media networks. Many authors and content experts may be willing to conduct a live tweet session with your students during which they can ask questions and get immediate responses.
- Involve your class in a social service project. Explore projects online that your students can get involved in to help make the world a better place. Choose2Matter is one global movement that may spark imagination about how social media can be used to help others.
- Learn more about social media use in the classroom. Join Twitter or use other social media tools to connect with other teachers and learn about their creative uses of social media. You can also take a class to hone your own social media skills.