Social media and the use of it in the classroom

After watching the Casey Anthony trial on TV the news/media started to talk about why this trial is so BIG and why so many people were so interested in this trail. One reason, they said, was that it was this was the “first social media trial“. It really got me thinking about the power of social media whether it be Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google+, etc…. I wonder if social media is so powerful, what if we used the powers for good and not evil, and tried to use it in the classroom. I have my personal thought about if and/or when it should or shouldn’t be used. I would like to see what you all have to say and then I will tell you my thoughts.

So here’s my question for you all… What do you think?

** UPDATE **  ** UPDATE **  ** UPDATE **  ** UPDATE **  ** UPDATE **  ** UPDATE **  ** UPDATE **

After viewing the poll it does seem like many of you think that we should use social media in the classroom somehow. Now here’s the question, how, when, where, etc. There are many questions that come up. My friend Amy and I have been taking about helping students become more of a “Responsible Digital Citizen”. I think that it wouldn’t work currently because students, and as we have seen, adult, don’t know how to use social media responsibly, i.e. the Anthony Weener incidents!!! But I think if we introduce it and teach students how to use it and remind them that this is not a private diary, that anyone at any point can and will look at your entries. Now it might be just a friend reading it, or a spouse, or an employer, but rest assure it will be read. A friend once told me that if you didn’t want something published on the front page of the newspaper for all to see then don’t do it. I think the same goes here. If you don’t want EVERYONE to read it then don’t post it.

I think if teachers use the powers for good and not evil it can be a good thing, i.e. remind students of due date, extra resources for assignments, etc. But I think we as educators have to follow some other rules. If you are going to create a Facebook page make it a Fan Page instead. Post only things related to your subject area. Avoid posting things that are personal. Never friend a student. For school consider a social media site that is more for education, such as Edmodo.com instead. It is a wonderful resource and the best part it is FREE!!!

On your personal, secured page, I would even avoid friending graduates, they are still friends with your current students!!! Also keep in mind, like I stated earlier, social media is not a private diary, somehow someway it will be read. Only post things that you feel comfortable about everyone reading. Finally, as for your personally Facebook site, only friend people that you and trust personally. Twitter is more for following people you don’t know or you find interesting.

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3 thoughts on “Social media and the use of it in the classroom

  1. Kim- good points made here. I have always made it a rule to avoid “friending” a student until they have graduated. However, I found that I had to go back and block many of them or remove them from my friends list based on the types of things they posted. I still have several former students on my friends list, but they are the ones that are adult enough to act their age (or at least avoid telling everyone when they are not).

    Keep up the good work- I’ve enjoyed reading your stuff.

  2. Thanks Pete!!!! I agree with all that you said about social media. What is the line from spiderman? With great power comes great responciblity.

    Thanks again for the kind words about my blog posts. Let me know if there is special you’d like me to tackle.

    • Yes, Uncle Ben (not the rice-maker) had it right, Kim. I enjoyed seeing your thoughts as well and while there are so many avenues that spring from the idea of social media’s use in education, I also believe it can be done in a positive way. I hate to pull the generation factor in, but we see the implications of the internet much different than kids today. For them it’s a vital part of life, like tv and video games, while to us it is still an ever-changing nebula of public information. These generations haven’t had to experience public humiliation on a grand scale, and they take it so lightly it’s scary. And, I have to say, because it has become a way of living for them we have to teach them how to use it responsibly. I remember how they used to have hygiene specialists come to the elementary school. Well now health is something that is reinforced throughout all grades.

      The bulk of the work does lie on teachers and parents, because by breaking the shell and seeing what’s inside, adults can demonstrate the reasons why being a “good digital citizen” is something that will have a lifelong impact. Like social media, the exercises can be so out of the ordinary that they cause students to think in a different way.

      I’ve been running some analogies through my head but the best one I can come up with for now is comparing the use of a social blog to standing on a stage and being seen…in outer space!! (cue Planet 9 music here) 🙂 Ask the students to close their eyes and put themselves there and to think about what they would say. What do you want the world to think of you? Are there things you’d rather keep secret? How would you treat your friends in front of these people, and how would you expect to be treated? You can put them on the other side too, and ask them how they would react to watching the tragic results of online bullying. Then remind the students that every time they post to a blog, or FB or whatever, that curtain opens and the whole world can see them. And at any point in time people can go back to that moment and see it again. (Yes, it can be argued that tools like FB give “privacy” but I’m on the fence about that, which is a discussion for another time.)

      As I step down from the soapbox I do want to say that I think if anyone can pave the path for good digital citizenship, it would be you Kim. 🙂 And yes, Edmodo will be a great way to turn students in the right direction. It’s getting better day by day, as we’ve seen. It really is all about attitude on the part of the educator, but it’s also about familiarity with the media.

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