Social Media in the Classroom- An Opinion Piece

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I have a family full of teachers, so I tend to hear a lot about new trends that are happening in the classroom. A constant topic of conversation is on if social media can effectively be used in the classroom? They always talk about how to use it, if parents will like it, if the kids will use it properly and if it will actually help.

The common reason that I hear in favor of using social media in the classroom is that all the kids are on it, so why not add a little education to the sites? My college used it for the library so that students could ask the librarian questions about books, find out special hours during finals, send students helpful links about writing papers and more. I also know some teachers used it as a way to connect with their students instead of e-mail.

So the question is: since students are on social networking sites, should schools should incorporate social media into their lessons?

My sister teaches 7th grade reading and she tried using Twitter in order to let her students ask questions about homework assignments, send them helpful articles, and to be available for anything her students would need. The idea was good in theory, but she found out that her kids were using their school Twitter accounts as their personal accounts and posted some rather personal things that my sister did not want to know about. She also found that some parents didn’t want their children on Twitter so they were unable to use the site. Twitter could work if the students created a “school account” and only used it for educational questions and answers and didn’t put any personal information on that particular site.

Facebook could be beneficial for students because it allows you to create groups so that the teacher and students don’t have to be friends but can engage in discussion. The only problem is that the group shows the profile photos of every group member and not every teacher would want his / her photo to be accessible to the students. If the students were in college this might be a little different, but for the most part I’m not sure teachers would want their students to be able to see that much of his / her personal life.

An Alternative

If students and teachers decided that they didn’t want to use popular social networking sites, there are a ton of other options. The site that I really like for students and teachers is called Edmodo and is a social media site for teachers and students. This site works basically just like Facebook and promotes discussion, asks the student’s questions, reminds them about assignments and doesn’t link to any personal information about the student or teacher. True, it isn’t as easy for students to log in as a site such as Facebook that they are already active on, but this creates a distinct line between student and teacher while allowing for discussion to continue.

 

Personally, I don’t believe social media should be used for any students in high school or younger. I think that creates all the problems I have discussed above and more. Once students and teachers are at a collegiate level it can be up to the teacher whether or not the teacher believes it would be helpful.

What do you think? Should social media be used in educational settings or is there a better way to do it?

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