We live in a world of evolving digital and social media.
Social platforms are considered a main form of communication and connection, used by students of all ages who are typically well-versed in the popular platforms. Many students are constantly on their mobile devices, inside and outside of the classroom.
In addition to social media popularity, the use of digital devices is impacting the way students learn and study. Our recent 2016 Digital Study Trends Survey found that 46% of students said it was important to be able to study on a mobile device, while 22% said studying on a mobile device was extremely important. In addition, 60% of students surveyed said they have used their smartphones for studying.
With digital technology coming into focus for learners, educators are integrating educational technology (ed-tech) into their classrooms and in some cases are starting to see positive results. Despite the undeniable presence and influence of technology in students’ lives, including social media, many teachers are not integrating social media into the classroom.
A University of Phoenix College of Education survey found, among 1,002 U.S. K-12 teachers, only 13% of those asked had integrated social media as a learning tool or teaching resource, with 87% saying they have not embraced social media platforms. Even more surprising, the survey found teachers are more reluctant to incorporate social media into their classroom learning than in 2013.
Despite the resounding reluctance, there are several existing opportunities for teachers to use social media to promote student learning. The survey found less than half of K-12 teachers are aware of the potential opportunities, with only 44% of educators stating social media can enhance the educational experience.
However, the lack of integration does not mirror teachers’ desires to learn how to integrate social media into the classroom. The survey revealed almost half of the teachers would like to be trained to use social media as a learning tool.
Understanding the Social Disconnect
The survey uncovered a few reasons why teachers are hesitant toward integrating social media into the classroom, including the following:
1. Teachers do not have the training or tools to interact with students or parents through social media
2. Teachers are concerned about student-teacher and parent-teacher conflicts
3. Teachers are intimidated by students’ knowledge/use of technological devices
4. Use of social platforms outside of the classroom can be distracting in the classroom
These concerns can be eliminated, or lessened, with the appropriate training. Educators need to learn how to use social media as a learning tool and teach students about digital literacy.
Tips for Teachers
Integrating social media into the classroom can be overwhelming and challenging, and any missteps can have long-term ramifications for students and teacher alike. However, there are several simple steps to help teachers begin the integration process:
1. Create strict social media guidelines
2. Use “closed” or secure social media sites
3. Connect with classrooms around the world, as “digital” pen-pals
4. Connect with experts from around the world, as guest teachers
5. Register your class in a social service project
6. Immerse yourself in social media; join a community group, forums etc.
To stay current and keep students engaged, educators need to acknowledge the influence of social media. Social media is here to stay so it’s important to understand how it can be used to benefit students inside and outside the classroom.