George Lucas Educational Foundation

Social Media in the Classroom

Social Media in the Classroom

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I joined Facebook a few years ago. My high school class was having a reunion, and the organizers started a Facebook Group to reach classmates all over the world. Last year I joined Twitter and Instagram. The first was for educational purposes. The principal at my children’s school was so excited about all the exciting things happening on Twitter that he encouraged the PTA and parents to see what it was all about. Instagram was purely because my daughter. She wanted an account and there was no way I was going to let her sign on without #1 being able to understand and use it and #2 being able to follow her and see what she was posting and who she was following and being followed by.

Now that I use these forms of social media, I am certain of two things – social media isn’t going anywhere, and we need to teach our children how to use it safely, intelligently, and get the most out of what it offers.

This needs to be a joint effort by parents, teachers, and school staff. By teachers modeling the proper use of social media in the classroom, students learn in real time how to maximize these tools. Whether it’s through classroom blogs, Edmodo, Twitter, or the other options out there, students need to learn the value and importance of digital citizenship in today’s world and their future.

These are my thoughts, what are yours? Does your child’s teacher use social media in the classroom? Have you had positive or negative experiences? If you are against the usage of social media in school, what is your argument?

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Laura Thomas's picture
Laura Thomas
Director, Antioch University New England Center for School Renewal, Author of Facilitating Authentic Learning, Director of the Antioch Critical Skills Program; Elementary Library Media Specialist

My children's teachers don't use it- but I wish they would! I think of it as yet another "place" we need to teach kids to function. We wouldn't dream of herding them all into the gym for a dance, then locking the doors and leaving because we're worried about what kind of trouble we might see them getting into. We chaperone, model appropriate behavior, make corrections when we see the need, and offer guidance and advice beforehand. Why would we imagine that we shouldn't take the same approach with social media?

Kevin Jarrett's picture
Kevin Jarrett
Maker Educator, Google Certified Innovator, Dreamer, Doer. Learning experience designer, workshop leader/speaker, author. Stanford #Fablearn Fellow. #GoogleEI

Great post, Lisa, thank you for sharing.

Here in New Jersey, our state Department of Ed is taking the lead, forcing the issue:

Bill would mandate middle schoolers learn social media savvy

While the benefits of social media are quite evident, so too are the potential dangers for kids and adults, and in the highly litigious world in which we live, it seems the most common reaction by districts is to restrict rather than enable (or even encourage) social media use. Laws like the one above are changing the landscape.

Parents and communities have great power in this conversation. I find that the best schools are effective mirrors of their communities, their values, their interests, their hopes and goals. In short: an active, well-organized, well-informed and eloquent parent community can have a significant impact on school policies and practices. With your community leadership role, you are well positioned to lead the charge. How many on your PTA support use of social media in this way? How many "rank and file" parents? As you work to get them organized and "on the social media bus," eventually, your district will have no choice but to follow suit.

One last thought - the ultimate effectiveness of any new learning initiative in an organization is directly related to the the district's professional development climate. Where learning (and intellectual dialog around professional practice) is valued and supported, evidenced by effective and consistent PD, anything is possible. In the opposite environment ... um, yeah. You get my point. :)


Gwen Pescatore's picture
Gwen Pescatore
President Home & School Assoc, #ParentCamp Organizer, Co-Moderator #PTchat

Great post Lisa! Thank you!!

As you all have media is not going anywhere. Not only that, we aren't going to be able to keep our children from it forever. If we want our children to use it responsibly, we do need to role model how to use it. I think that means starting early - before bad habits are formed. I like the analogy of teaching our children to cross the street. We start by holding their hand, teaching them how to safely cross, and crossing with them. We then let go of their hands and watch them from the curb. Eventually, we trust that we have done the best we can to teach them and trust them to cross on their own. Using social media is no different.

I agree with Kevin, PD is crucial to success. Adults did not grow up exposed to social media. We have learned along the way - and some have had no one show them how to best use it (not only for personal use - but also professionally). Actions do speak louder than words, and regardless of what we are telling our children/students to do, if we are using social media in a negative way ourselves, it says to them it is ok for them to do the same. Will we always have that one or two that continue to not use it properly? I believe so, but we cannot punish everyone else because of the one or two.

When used properly, social media opens the doors to learning with the world. I can't find one reason why we wouldn't want that.

Dan Callahan's picture
Dan Callahan
Professional Learning Specialist, Edcamper, Graduate Professor

I completely agree. In my school district, one of our information and digital literacy standards strands is Digital Citizenship. I document my work with Twitter and with a Facebook account that pulls from my work blog.

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