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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Social Media - Adopt or Face Irrelevancy

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A recent report announced "American teenagers (13- to 18-year-olds) average about nine hours (8:56) of entertainment media use, excluding time spent at school or for homework." 9 HOURS A DAY! This number is astounding and represents a fundamental trend that schools need to embrace. If we don’t embrace social media as a tool to connect with students, parents and colleagues, we will surely be left behind.

By their own admission though, teachers are wary of social media. In a 2015 Harris poll, 86% of teachers surveyed reported they have NOT integrated social media into their classrooms. Additionally, 62% reported a reluctance to incorporate social media in the future.

But, why?

Sure, we’ve all seen the media report on teachers who’ve used social media in inappropriate ways. But scandal hits every profession. Just look at the Catholic Church or BP or Volkswagen.

Is it because teachers are intimidated by social media? Perhaps. But just because you don’t know how to use something doesn't mean you shouldn't learn. Remember, there was a day when you didn’t know how to drive a car or cook a meal either.

We believe teachers and administrators simply need training - professional development - on using social media EFFECTIVELY in schools.

Teachers must start teaching in the year we live. A BILLION people check Facebook every day! Twitter has over 300 million users that tweet an average of 6,000 times every second of every day. Students and their parents are using Instagram, Pinterest, Periscope, YouTube and other apps to connect with their world while educators sit idly by, afraid to engage.

These social media platforms offer a huge opportunity to meet our core constituents where they are. They allow us to share content, engage in educational discussions, connect with other teachers from around the world, promote school events and school spirit and SO much more.

Technology moves fast and social media is changing the field of education. As teachers, we must adopt or risk irrelevancy. 


This post was created by a member of Edutopia's community. If you have your own #eduawesome tips, strategies, and ideas for improving education, share them with us.

Comments (35) Sign in or register to comment Follow Subscribe to comments via RSS

Abigail Pollak's picture
Abigail Pollak
Marketing Assistant

Ensuring Students Are Well Googled . We need to be smart about ensuring we are preparing students to be well-Googled by the time they graduate high school. We must support them in creating an online presence that will lead help them get into that school, land that job, and attract the right people into their worlds for powerful global connections.

Schoolhouse Media's picture
Schoolhouse Media
2x Teacher of the Year - Social Media Advocate

Mc Abigail Pollak, we agree! The internet isn't going away and is being used more and more for recruitment, employment vetting, etc. By modeling for our student and teaching them to properly create and maintain their digital reputation, we're setting them up for future success. And...social media is a crucial part of this endeavor.

Junaid Mubeen's picture
Junaid Mubeen
Head of Product at Whizz Education

Social media is here to stay. It brings enormous educational benefits by connecting students, teachers and parents and embracing the social dimension of learning. At the same time, we must surely recognise that social media carries as much risk as it does opportunity. That students spend 9 hours a day on entertainment media is alarming. Yes, let's meet students where they are and tap into their digital identities. But let's also recognise that students are over exposed to entertainment. Converting some of that time into productive learning opportunities is a positive step but educators and parents also have a responsibility to encourage broader habits that are not so heavily dependent on the digital medium.

Mihail Maz's picture

Having graduated college in 2013 and getting a job as an educator all I heard from experienced teachers was to get rid of your social media prior to teaching. I deleted a few and changed my name making it harder for students to find me. I currently teach technology education at the high school level. Being the youngest teacher at my school and having a age gap of about 10 years to the next youngest teacher made me realize how much my older colleagues did not know about social media. I found myself describing and showing many colleagues the difference between Instagram, Twitter, Facebook etc. and expelling to them the positives rather than the negatives that can come from it. Well, in the school that I work at almost every single student is glued to their phone. Any free time they have their face is attached to it. Cell phone use has been an issue the faculty was trying to limit and discipline students who abuse it, but it has not been working. I came up with an idea to show my colleagues how useful social media can be if we used it. I ended up getting my principles approval and created a twitter hash tag to raise money and canned food donations at one of the high-school football games to benefit the community. All throughout the school student helped put up signs and throughout social media. Long story short it was very successful. This was the beginning to creating a professional development class on the use of social media at my school.

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Schoolhouse Media's picture
Schoolhouse Media
2x Teacher of the Year - Social Media Advocate

Great news Mihail Maz! Please keep up the fight to include #socialmedia in your school. It seems that the best opportunity lies inside the walls of America's high schools.

Ashley Hill's picture
Ashley Hill
I am a Scholarship Strategist who is passionate about teaching overwhelmed and stressed students and their families how to lower college costs by leveraging their achievements to increase their chances of winning scholarships.

Well said! Often times, you hear of all of the negative aspects without equally as enough information to teach students how to use social media (and the internet) to further develop their academic skills, prepare for college, and prepare for adulthood. Social media is simply a tool to convey information. We have to teach our students how to convey the right messages with this powerful tool.

Martin Diaz Alvarez's picture
Martin Diaz Alvarez
Business Consultant

Social media permeates today's society with millions of us engrossed, some would argue to the point of unhealthy addiction, in the latest happenings via apps such as Facebook and Twitter.

Schoolhouse Media's picture
Schoolhouse Media
2x Teacher of the Year - Social Media Advocate

Thanks for your thoughts Juan. We agree that social media is EVERYWHERE. But that's exactly why we should be diligent in helping our students responsibly navigate these platforms.

sblanch2's picture

Many people, including myself, would agree that social media is becoming so prevalent in the lives' of the young that it had become an addiction. However, I do believe that teachers can use social media to their advantage by engaging with students on different social media apps and websites. I guarantee that students will be more inclined to do their homework and assignments if they are required to check social media as a means of this.

Schoolhouse Media's picture
Schoolhouse Media
2x Teacher of the Year - Social Media Advocate

sblanch2, we agree. Teachers should use the resources at their disposal and connect with students in the best ways possible. We can also model best practices and practical security measures to help students navigate social media platforms with success.

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