Have you ever come across certain content on social media and thought to yourself, “this is more educational than what I was taught in school.” Learning and teaching through social media is emerging as a popular trend.
If you feel this way, you’re not alone. Teaching has long been a revered profession, loved by many, not only because of it’s numerous benefits, but also because of the plethora of things and for so much more that you get to learn from your students.
Teaching is being perceived as a ‘flexible’ profession, since its accessibility has now extended to many people, and the place of education has largely shifted from the classroom to the internet.
According to the latest statistics, as of now more than half of the world population uses social media in some form or the other. It has been reported that approximately 4.48 billion people use social media worldwide. A point to note here is that, there are many users over the age of 13 years, who are active on social media.
Of the 7.77 billion people in the world, more than half of the people in the world, aged 13 years and above are active on the social media platforms. So why not use these statistics to your advantage as an educator?
Given that earlier, information was not easily available on most subjects, social media and the internet at large have generally become intermediaries for people to learn anything and everything and that too, without any charge.
While there are some content creators who focus on providing useful content on Instagram through their IG reels, stories or posts, others use TikTok, Facebook long form videos, Snapchat and Twitter to amplify the education driven content that they create.
However, most teachers were doubtful of education through social media at first, given the entire skepticism around social media itself.
Is Teaching through SOCIAL MEDIA possible?
Teaching through social media is possible for many reasons. First, the concept of online education is not new. It’s already been more than 10 years since we started teaching and learning online.
Given that online education has been around for many years, other online channels of networking and learning ought to get incorporated and get synced at some point in time or the other.
When that happens, not only are students empowered with more information, but their immediate communities are also involved in the circulation, dissemination, transmission and proliferation of this information.
Therefore, learning for students also takes place through social media networks of parents, teachers, and students. Students use social media for a number of purposes: to find internships, share talents, and also to collaborate with others for work.
Discussions about the topic of allowing social media in schools and colleges has found general consensus on two grounds – one that it does far more good than bad and the other, that the major adverse consequence of allowing social media for students is that they get too distracted in class.
Nevertheless, social media is now being looked at with more positivity and practicality than ever before, especially to reach out to students during school hours. This is quite evident given that students are overly involved with their smartphones.
So communicating with them through different social media platforms, not only makes school more practical in terms of online learning but also allows the school to engage more with each and every student.
Now the real question is, can teachers actually succeed in incorporating social media into their teaching? The answer is an astounding yes! Though Learning Management Systems have been around for quite some time, technology is now slowly and steadily developing into areas that are more relevant to people.
Educators and digital technology developers expect these systems to continue to improve and to incorporate social media into their learning mechanisms. In the meanwhile, there are many open minded teachers who have already incorporated and leveraged social media in their teaching pedagogy.
Using Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, teachers post relevant information to their group pages or to their ‘teacher profile’ to engage in quality, and transparent discussions with students on subject related topics.
Why is Teaching through SOCIAL MEDIA important?
Social media is of primary importance due to the many benefits it offers to the learning community at large, both for students and teachers alike.
While social media can be obviously used as a viable tool for communication between students and teachers, it can be utilized for many other educational purposes that would greatly enhance the learners experiences and career goals.
Through social media, students can develop useful connections with potential employers. Other social networks like Quora, SlideShare, etc. give students exposure into real world situations, and that quite well relate to what is being learned in the classroom.
Teachers through social media networks can also help education be inclusive by helping each and every student learn better.
This can be done through messaging social media networks like WhatsApp and Telegram where teachers can have one-to-one sessions with their students to explain certain concepts and lessons that could be hard to comprehend in class.
Using social media, teachers can also have discussions and can also send assignments to students. These discussions can not only be based on class subjects, but also their applications in real life issues and situations. Educational and helpful social media trends can also be leveraged for this purpose.
Another reason why it is important for teachers to use their social media accounts is to establish and leverage their credibility in the teaching fraternity, and to further reinforce their name in the industry.
As specified earlier, teachers can make use of different social media platforms to market and popularize their educational content. Thus, social media networks can be beneficial for both – students and teachers.
Tips for Teaching through SOCIAL MEDIA
Use Instagram for Essays with Photographs
In a class that uses a lot of visuals like pictures, videos, etc., the teachers can encourage the usage of Instagram. Since it’s primarily a picture sharing platform, utilizing visual heavy presentations on Instagram is an effective teaching technique for educators to incorporate.
One way to do this is by asking the students to make an account strictly for classroom purposes through which they can share course related posts, pictures and information. Also, the students can make their visual based presentations with an essay (if the assignment specifies).
It’s a great way to imbibe digital storytelling as a skill in students. While other social media platforms are also beneficial, Instagram is the perfect fit for picture friendly assignments and presentations. Therefore, as an educator, you must harness the potential of this social platform.
Create a Class Blog
Discussions are an integral part of teaching and learning, and discussions can be enabled and the students can be empowered by having valuable conversations about various modules, subjects and topics in a course.
This also teaches students to form and voice out their opinions, by backing what they believe in with the help of relevant facts and examples.
Creating a class blog is an innovative way of getting your students involved in what’s being taught in class, and engaging them in real life based discussions, to help them understand the world around them better through what they learn in class.
Thus, a class blog is a digital content outlet that can be linked back to the class teachings easily. Platforms that can be used for this purpose vary substantially in their level of complexity. You’ll have WordPress, Blogger, Medium, SquareSpace, Tumblr and Wix at your disposal if you choose to go ahead with such a class activity.
Teachers can post a prompt on a class subject for discussion and students can post their opinions on the subject, as comments in the same blog post. For this, while teachers need to create a distinct blog handle for a discussion, students just need to create and then login to their own account and access the relevant post.
This also comes handy in instilling values, such as of the need to respect and hear out other people’s opinions on a subject matter while you’d also want them to hear you out too. Additionally, digital discussions tend to bring an edge to teaching, as real life situations can be depicted in an efficacious manner.
Undoubtedly, class blogs are convenient for both teachers and students because of their ease of operation and functionality.
Leverage Pinterest Boards and Pins for class specific needs
Pinterest is an engaging social media network that works purely on aesthetics and visuals. It’s basically a social media platform used by creative persons, and for people who like and prefer aesthetics, planning and organizing.
If you’re an educator who’s obsessed with organizing and staying organized, then you’d love to include Pinterest into your teaching technique. Teachers can use Pinterest to get ideas for worksheets, class assignments, projects and even materials or resources for course related work.
With the help of Pinterest, teachers can create engaging, relevant, and crisp lesson plans that will enable students grasp what is being taught, without any difficulty.
Educators can create Pinterest boards based on a particular class or a given subject. Under a Pinterest board teachers can create pins on sub topics for weekly lessons.
Pinterest is a highly valuable online resource for students. Teachers and students can use this platform to pin useful resources for their personal projects, individual assignments, group assignments, presentations, etc.
It can also be used as a bibliography keeper which can store all images, videos, blogs, articles, etc. relevant to the assignments. Later when students are ready to begin their writing tasks or assignments, students can then have all these resources at their disposal.
Use Facebook Pages and Groups to broadcast updates
For some teachers, using an entirely new system can be extremely challenging, especially when they are not used to exploring new technology without any external help.
With advancements in technology and social media, teachers can now create their own class or course page, specific to their school or college, as a backup to their Learning Management System.
Educators can post updates about the class or lessons on their class or course page, and necessary updates, say if there’s an assignment to be completed in the coming weekend. When the students like this page, they too then receive these posts on that page and hence are updated about the latest input by their teachers.
And if a student does not have a Facebook account, then he or she can either create one or otherwise just Google the name of the concerned Facebook page as it is available in the public domain. However, one thing to definitely remember here, is that, the page will be public and hence anyone can have access to this page.
If teachers think that a Facebook Page poses a considerable risk to privacy, then they can create a private Facebook Group and let their students know about it. Once students find the group, they can request to be added in there.
Here, since the Facebook Group won’t be public, the contents of it too won’t be public and hence will be out of reach of those who don’t have access to this Facebook Group.
Utilize Twitter to get in touch with the class
People take the platform seriously and voice their opinions loud and clear where they get the attention and are also heard by the change makers, policy makers and prominent leaders of a country. Teachers too can incorporate Twitter into their teaching schedule.
Twitter poses certain lesson worthy challenges to teachers and to students alike, which includes the keeping of their messages crisp and to the point, by responding to a tweet within a limited number of characters. This encourages students to develop essential communication skills such as clarity and concise writing.
Educators can use Twitter to their advantage where they can post reminders of assignment submissions, or post useful resources for students who can use the extra help and the extra study material, and be better equipped and prepared for their class.
Additionally, since hashtags are of prime importance to the platform, class discussions can also take place based on the trending hashtags that are related to a subject matter of their course. Teachers can create a twitter handle for each class, and reuse the same handle every year.
If not, a new handle can be created every year, if that helps.
Live Stream discussion sessions and lectures
As suggested earlier, as an educator, if you want your updates to be private to your students then you can go ahead and create a Facebook Group. In the group, once all your class students are added, you can begin a live streaming session, make important announcements, assign projects, post discussions, etc., on the group.
It’s imperative to note that there must be a professional boundary maintained between students and teachers.
To keep students engaged in the course, teachers can also send reminders of assignments that needs to be submitted post the holiday season to avoid any more ‘wait’ time and to give a heads up and prepare the students for what is expected post the holidays.
And, if students need to be added to the group, educators need not send them friend requests. The link can simply be emailed to both, the students and the parents for easy accessibility.
Conclusion on Teaching through SOCIAL MEDIA
To encapsulate, social media is more than just a distraction to today’s generation of students, to the extent that it is imperative for you as an educator to take up the initiative to explore this fun side of leveraging social media for education.
However, everyone’s teaching techniques might not always be the same and some may not be as comfortable with mixing the two, all too often and that is okay. The first step though is orienting your students with these social media platforms as a value based learning platform.
Additionally, it’s important to remember that not every student might have equal access to the internet and social media. In that case, it’s best to adopt and adapt to some other innovative teaching techniques that may not breach the boundaries that are important to both students and parents.
So which all social media and online platforms have you leveraged for your teaching and learning this year?