Thursday, 8 August 2013

Social media in the classroom: too risky?

Social media in the classroom
There are now more than 500 million users on Facebook, half of whom log on every day. Social media has transformed the way that people communicate with their friends, share their experiences and plan their lives but it’s also created new challenges and special problems for schools.

Teachers face the risk that their private lives might be exposed or that students may use the sites inappropriately.

Yet some schools are already harnessing the power of Facebook and Twitter to excite students about education.

We thought we would assess this by considering whether the pros outweigh the cons of using social media sites in education, particularly now that social media is such an integral part of students’ lives.

There are a number of ways that teachers can take advantage of social networking both inside and outside the classroom.

Advantages include:

  • Sharing ideas and experiences
A teacher may want to sense-check a new resource, compare results of an alternative teaching measure or technique, expand and broaden a lesson plan and idea or initiate a new digital resource within their classroom. Social media offers an instant way of sharing and sourcing new information, communicating with colleagues and learning from the experiences of others.

  • Partner with other schools
Social media removes certain barriers and boundaries which mean teachers can connect with colleagues at other schools and learning institutions. This creates important networks or channels for knowledge and information sharing.

  • Professional development
Social media has become an increasingly useful way of finding out about events, exhibitions and conferences (i.e. from regional teachmeets, to the national Bett Show, etc). In this way teachers have the opportunity to attend or share details with colleagues who they also feel would benefit from attending. Moreover, social media is a tool to communicate in real-time − webinars and online meetings can be discussed and advanced via the meeting hosts’ personal or professional social pages.

While social media offers up new and unknown challenges, particularly within the education sector, it’s becoming more and more clear that it is helping to improve teaching efficiency and enhancing students’ learning experiences. Young people are inspired by new technologies and by integrating them into educational practices they are taking more responsibility for their own education. This not only improves students’ overall learning experiences, it also helps students adapt to new digital practices and expectations for when they enter the competitive job market in the future.

Have your say and tweet @LearnersCloud

Tell us your experiences of using social media in the classroom or share your concerns and discuss them with our network of teaching professionals.