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Social Networking as a Tool for Teacher and Student Learning

There's a lot of potential with social media

by Rachel Summers

Students and teachers alike are very familiar with social networking sites. Sites such as Facebook and Twitter help people get together and share ideas, so of course you can use them in an educational environment. Here’s how you can use social networks in education and get everyone working together.

Everyone Is Familiar with Social Networks

It seems like everyone is on at least one social network or other. Whether you’re using Facebook to catch up with family, or Instagram to share pictures of your travels, they’re easy to pick up and use. If you’re a student, you can easily put social media to good use in your education, keeping in touch with classmates when you’re working on projects together. As a teacher, you can use it to send pupils information outside of class hours, and encourage discussion. There’s a lot of potential with social media.

How Can Social Media Be Used in an Educational Setting?

When you think of social media, you think of it being used in a casual way, rather than an educational one. However, there’s lots of ways you can put it to use. ‘Social media can easily be turned to any purpose you like’ says Top Canadian Writers teacher Sandra Hayes. ‘You can create groups, discussion boards, you name it.’ Here’s just a few ways you can use them yourself, either as a teacher or a student.

• Set up a group for your class before it begins, helping students get to know each other ahead of time.

• Students can create group chats, when they’re working on group projects. They can also send each other documents through many social sites’ chat functions.

• Teachers can share documents and other learning materials with their students before class, so everyone has access to the material from their phone or mobile device.

• Discussion groups can be set up, allowing students to discuss the material from class in their own time.

These are just a few ideas, you can probably think of a lot more for your class. As you can see, when used correctly, social media can be an important learning tool.

Using Other Online Tools

Try these tools alongside social media:

Using Dedicated Social Sites

If you’re a teacher looking to use social media in your classroom, you’ll need to think carefully about what site you use. A site like Facebook sounds like a good idea, as everyone will already be using it. However, you may find that your students don’t want to use it for educational purposes. This makes sense, as they want to keep their personal and educational lives separate.

If this is the case for you, you’re in luck. There are plenty of education based social media sites out there you can use. Student Michael Ford from Revieweal says, ‘One of my teachers had us all sign up with a dedicated social media site for students. It was great as we could keep up with our classes on there, and see what was coming up next.’

In some settings, you may already be using a service such as Moodle, which shares a lot of functions with social media sites. If you have access to a service like this, make sure you’re using it. The more you encourage students to use it, the more you can deliver to them. If you’re a student, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on these sites. Teachers will often deliver content through them that’s vital to your course, and it can help you keep up to date with what’s happening.

There’s a lot of benefits to using social media in education. Students can keep in contact when working on projects, and have access to content that they’ll need when they’re next in class. Teachers have a good platform to share content on, including extracurricular details that they feel their students will find interesting. When used in the right way, social media is an excellent tool.

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