Social Media Technologies Enter the Classroom

The article titled “The Case for Social Media in Schools” discusses six reasons why schools should incorporate social media into their curriculum.  Elizabeth Delmatoff, a seventh grade teacher from Portland, Oregon, provides insight into how the social media program in her classroom increased student’s knowledge.

Pic 18She has cited statistics that “20% of students school-wide were completing extra assignments for no credit, grades had gone up more than 50%, and chronic absenteeism was reduced by more than a third.”  This shows the emergence of social media in classrooms has educational benefits.

Most educators are afraid to use social media technologies in schools because of exposure to inappropriate material, predators, and bullying from peers.  However, teachers like Ms. Delmatoff argue the education benefits of social media outweigh the risks.

There are six reasons why schools should follow Ms. Delmatoff’s lead, and start to incorporate social media into the curriculum.

1.    Social Media in Not Going Away

Many students already have social media profiles they use on a daily basis.  They are checking their friend’s statuses, viewing pictures, writing comments, and liking as many things as possible.  Now is the time to incorporate social media into the classroom, so students can learn how to use social media for good.  They can learn how to blog and comment on educational topics such as the election, global warming, etc.

Pic 19Ms. Delmatoff stated her opinion on recent social media bans in schools.  She said, “Don’t fight a losing battle. We’re going to get there anyway, so it’s better to be in the cutting edge, and be moving with the kids, rather than moving against them.”  This highlights the fact that social media is not going anywhere.  We must find a way to incorporate social media into classrooms, so students can expand their knowledge on the subject.

2.    When Kids Are Engaged, They Learn Better

Everyone knows that people retain more knowledge when they are having fun.  With the use of blogs, students are doing just that.  They are learning and having fun at the same time.  Ms. Delmatoff said her students enjoyed the blogging activities so much, they worried they might “get into trouble for playing.”  They also arrived at school early to use the social media program.

3.    Safe Social Media Tools Are Available – And They Are Free

Pic 20Kidblog.org was created by a teacher that wanted to use blogs to teach, but avoid the dangers associated with social media sites.  After developing kidblog.org, Mr. Hardy was able to monitor the children’s blog posts, and they were never exposed to inappropriate advertising.

Teachers can use platforms such as Kidblog.org, Edmodo, and Edublogs for free!  All they need is a few computers and a classroom full of students with an open mind to learn.

4.    Replace Online Procrastination with Social Education

Research from a Nielson study revealed that between 2004 and 2009, time spent online for 2 through 11 year old’s increased 63%.  This study does not account for recent data from 2010 to 2013, which probably includes a greater increase of online activity.  With the use of social media in classrooms, school work could capture some of this time.

For example, Delmatoff created extra assignments her students could complete after school.  They included activities such as commenting on one of President Obama’s speeches.  About 100 students participated in the assignments, resulting in fewer hours spent on Facebook and MySpace.

5.    Social Media Encourages Collaboration Instead of Cliques

TeamworkSchool can be a scary place for shy and timid individuals.  However, when social media is used as a teaching tool, everyone is excited to provide input and contribute to the conversation.

The ability to collaborate is an important skill to have, especially when you start your career.  The workforce is filled with team projects, group meetings, and many other activities where collaboration is the key to success.

6.    Cell Phones Are Not the Enemy

Cell phones are banned in almost every school.  My high school had a strict policy that prohibited the use of any electronic devices during school hours.  This included cell phones, laptops, and iPods.

Pic 26Instead of banning cell phones, Ms. Delmatoff’s school decided to collect the student’s cell phone numbers.  She would text students that were chronically late to school.  This policy is completely harmless, but I think it could cause problems in the future if parents complain.

Social media technologies will never be a thing of the past, which is why schools around the world need to modify their curriculum to include social media.  The knowledge these students gain will be critical both now and in the future.  Many companies are looking for individuals who know how to use social media to increase sales, brand awareness, etc.  We might have the next Mark Zuckerberg among us.

For more information on what other schools are doing to incorporate social media into the classroom, watch this video titled “Digital Media Empower Youth,” created by Edutopia.

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