Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Education: Integrating Social Media into Schools (Part 2 of 3)

Earlier we discussed the benefits of YouTube, today we move on to Facebook and YouTube.

The use of social media is something that has been carefully avoided, and often times banned, from schools -- but with rapidly changing technology and an increasing relevance of social networking in people's personal lives and even at work, it is a subject that is becoming hard to ignore. Social networking is a trend that is unlikely to become quiet anytime soon, so shouldn't schools try to find positive uses for the social media rather than just sweeping it under the carpet? Most parents and teachers have been well informed of the horror stories of Facebook or MySpace but many aren't aware of the many benefits such sites can have. If  done properly, teachers can utilize social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter to connect, notify, teach, and curate

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Facebook is often used as a means of communication between students. If a student has a question about a test or homework assignment he or she can easily look up a classmate on Facebook and ask. This has been a method used since the creation of Facebook- so why not extend it by adding teacher-student communication? Teachers can use Facebook to make a page or group that the students can join. Teachers can then use the page to schedule events, post notes, and remind students of upcoming tests or due dates. Teenagers are on Facebook so often they can't miss it! Facebook also caters to students with apps and groups such as Flashcards and WeRead. These apps are a fun and easy way of learning that modern day teens can really connect with.

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Recently Twitter's popularity has been soaring, especially with businesses. There are countless ways this new trend can be integrated into the classroom. Teachers can create a feed specifically for the class for their students to follow. This way they can tweet about upcoming tests and assignments, class news, events, and other reminders. It is a fast and easy way to get the word out -- plus students will see the tweets every time they check their Twitter pages (which is probably quite frequently). Teachers can also bring Twitter to the classroom by posting links and articles onto the site for students to view outside of class. This makes homework more interesting than a simple textbook or handout (not to mention- it saves a lot of printing!). Tracking hash tags, memes, and current events can allow teachers to find information relevant to the curriculum and incorporate it into class time, making it a more interesting and "hip" way for students to learn. 

Facebook and Twitter are also perfect sites for not just student-teacher communication, but also communication with other teachers. Groups on Facebook and feeds on Twitter can allow teachers to seek out one another and share ideas. It is also an easy way for parents to connect with teachers and see what their child is learning. 

Social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter are mostly viewed by parents and educators as hindering to their child's education-and in certain instances it can be -- but this can be minimized by incorporating social media into education rather than separating it out. Our youth loves social networking, so we should use that to our advantage to help them love learning too!

Click here to return and visit Part 1: YouTube.

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