Social Media in the Classroom: Pros and Cons

A guest post written by EdNet Insight editor Anne Wujick Social media tools such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are the backbone of the way today’s youth communicate. For many, social media channels are the way they share news, schedules […]

A guest post written by EdNet Insight editor Anne Wujick

Social media tools such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are the backbone of the way today’s youth communicate. For many, social media channels are the way they share news, schedules and just hang out. Not surprisingly, students are also using these social networking tools for school work. Advocates argue that sine they are already so widely in use, they should be welcomed in the classroom where they can boost student engagement and link students to real-world examples of classroom lessons. But some educators worry about the distraction factor and others about students using these tools in inappropriate ways. Where do you come down in the use of social media in the classroom?

On the one hand…social media is key to 21st-century learning On the other hand…there are too many stumbling blocks for social media to be effective
“I use social media judiciously, but find that it adds spice to topics that students typically find pretty bland, allowing me to draw students in to a greater degree than usual. I may create a Twitter hashtag specific to the topic so students can collaborate and discuss and then review by finding all the tweets that include that specific hashtag. I find that I get broader and more sustained participation than when we go with small group discussions and a whole group wrap up.”  “It makes sense that allowing students to use a trendy new tool would help them engage with even with a fairly dry topic. But I worry about students’ ability to engage face-to-face. It’s too easy to type out a few words, but what do they learn about keeping a real conversation going? I’m so tired of seeing so many students spending every free minute hunched over their phones, tablets and other personal devices, ignoring the people around them.”  
“I incorporate as many social media tools as I can, not just because of the engagement factor, but because they are so helpful in building up students 21st century skill set. Being able to collaborate anytime anyplace is so powerful for todays’ students. Students create great supporting materials using Pinterest and YouTube, turn to Facebook and Twitter to find and engage with experts and have access to multiple ways to express themselves. I especially like that these tools boost interaction between students, broadening their circle of peers in the classroom and beyond.”
   
 
“I think so much of this is just a big distraction. Is it really collaboration or just hanging out? If there’s always someone to reach out to via one social network or another do students ever learn to persist and work through an issue on their own? I teach middle schools and my students’ ability to use these tools far outpaces their maturity or impulse control. What if they post something inappropriate or begin to harass or bully someone online? Am I responsible if I encouraged them to use the tools to get an assignment done? This is just more than I’m willing to take on.” 

“This past year we invested in a secure social media platform that provides access to a wide variety of tools. Along with e-mail, blogs, digital online lockers, and a tool to post and collect assignments, there’s a Facebook like environment for collaboration and sharing. Best of all it’s totally secure and uses filters for slang, hate words, pornography, etc. We’re able to teach students about the right way to use social media and because it’s such a safe and easy-to-use environment teachers feel free to experiment, so fun things are happening.”

“That sounds wonderful, for reasons well beyond the social media uses. I, on the other hand, have to search out free sites that offer a secure environment, set up a teacher account for every project I want to do, monitor student use carefully since many filters are not as good as I would like, and pull it all together into a meaningful educational experience. So while I think there are powerful ways to use social media in the classroom, I also think there are better ways for me to use my time.”  
 

What’s your take, teachers? Do you “like” social media as a learning tool? Why or why not?

Posted by WeAreTeachers Staff

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