Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Social Media in the Classroom

This past week we were lucky enough to have John Finch (MB education) with us, giving a presentation on Social Media in the Classroom. We spent time discussing various social media tools that can be used in the classroom. After learning about how to use these various tools we also talked about the irony in Manitoba school division's policies on using these particular sites in schools. Many school divisions in Manitoba have found that the majority of students misuse sites such as Facebook. In an attempt to control this behaviour, they have blocked social media sites from students entirely. I found it very interesting how certain school divisions allow various types of social media, and other divisions disallow social media such as Facebook, Twitter, youtube etc.
I feel like school divisions should be doing everything they can to try to promote positive, community-oriented relationships with their students. For example, Pembina Trails School division has blocked social media sites such as Twitter, from the students. The irony in it, is that they actually use Twitter to give news about what is happening in their division such as news, and windchill warnings to students and staff!! Soo why are these sites blocked in the schools?
In my opinion, school divisions should not be blocking social media sites but teaching students to use these tools effectively and appropriately in creating a positive online image. As a teacher, I would like to learn what motivates my students to do the things that they do and then build off their interests to help motivate them to use classroom instruction in a constructive manner. Students everywhere seem to be glued to social media sites. Wouldn't it be nice if we could transform the use of social media into something positive and school-related?

I believe that teachers can use social media sites, such as Facebook, to inspire and encourage students to complete assignments or homework. Teachers can use Facebook for a starting point for class activities including: following news feeds, share links, educational games, follow news stories, create class groups, share multimedia and much more. A great site for ideas on integrating the use of Facebook into the classroom is:

Twitter can also be a very effective method of incorporating students into classroom activities. For example, when I was student teaching I encouraged my students to use social networking sites in a positive way. One might assume that there aren't a lot of ways to incorporate Twitter into a subject like Physical Education..but there definitely are! During one of my health units, we were concentrating on fitness and healthy lifestyle practices and I gave them links to a number of different web tools that we used, but also encouraged students to “follow” various types of fitness and health professionals such as Tosca Reno,and Lacey Stone. Twitter can also be used to help parents and other teachers “follow” what students are currently learning about in class. The following is a link to a site that will help to explain some of the other uses Twitter may have in the classroom: http://www.ideastoinspire.co.uk/twitter.htm

When you start to think about all of the different types of online social media, there really are endless possibilities to which one could incorporate these such web tools into the classroom. As teachers, all we have to do is be able to accept the concept and allow ourselves to think creatively enough..and the sky's the limit!


  1. Wow Dory, you really gave this a lot of thought. I appreciate that, and I think I agree with you for the most part.

    Did you see those two articles that Mike posted on NING? One was supporting the argument that the internet is making us "stupider" (which isn't a word... fun fact... "more stupid"?) and the other taking the oppposing side.

    I would love to use Facebook in my class, the only problem is if you give students access to computers during class... they won't be paying you any attention. You know... ;) But there's got to be a good way that we can incorporate Facebook and other social media into our classes. I guess the first step is convincing more teachers, principals, and divisions that Facebook and social media can be a good thing. That's a good first step!

  2. I wonder if you would be allowed to set up a Facebook group for your class that could be used by students at home? The group could be used by students at home to share ideas, links, websites or just interesting findings that students might want to share with the class.

    I guess this could all be done on a class website or blog, but it just seems like most kids would be more likely to participate if it was directly linked to there Facebook, which they are going to be on anyway.

  3. Great ideas and inspiration. It's true there is no point in pretending that facebook, twitter and the other social media sites don't exist just because we enter the confines of a school. Creating student responsibility seems to me to be the major obstacle along with general distraction. There are going to be problems but I think they pale in comparison to the advantages.

    As a complete aside, I have tried to conjure up reasons in my sluggish mind as to why these sites are so engaging and captivating, and why so many people burn so many hours on them. There many of the conspicuous reasons, but I have been trying to think of it on more of a psychological or maybe even evolutionary level (if that even makes sense). What is it about them that holds the attention for so long? What is it about the seemingly low tech text message that has become such an integral and pervasive medium of communication? Is it because they seem non-invasive to us and therefore we can spend as much time as we want scouring over whatever details someone might put on "their" site?

    Well....this is turning out to be a disjointed ramble that I should probably apologize for so I'll cut it short for now, but I do find it very intriguing.