As a teacher, you've probably told your students to put their phones away more than once. But now it might be time to ask them to take their phones out and get ready for the next lesson. While social media is a great tool for connecting people across time zones and countries, it also can help students engage in learning with a renewed interest.
Not every platform will be suitable for educational purposes, but Twitter, Snapchat and Flickr are three that have surprising and beneficial uses in the classroom.
Twitter has a broad range of uses. For social studies and history, you can have students find current events they're interested in and bring those to class for discussion. You can generate a unique hashtag for each class, create and post polls, and ask students to tweet their thoughts rather than writing out a paragraph for class. You also can encourage students to look at different perspectives through hashtags related to the subjects they're studying.
While Snapchat is known for its silly filters and quickly disappearing images, it has other features that teachers can use to their advantage. One very popular concept is called #BookSnaps. #BookSnaps originated as a way for students to make their own connections with the text they are reading. Students take a picture of their book using Snapchat and then annotate it with different colored lines, emojis and add their thoughts in the text box. They are using a social media platform to engage with the text and their fellow students. The act of annotating the image solidifies the content and creates a lasting memory.
Flickr is a wonderful resource for finding photos to use in school projects because many images are available for free through Creative Commons licenses. Instead of taking photos from Flickr, consider having your students contribute photos. If you go on a class trip or take a walk outside, assign hashtags to small groups to serve as themes for the photos they take. Then have them submit the photos to you, and you can upload them to Flickr. Students will have a sense of contributing to a larger community after this activity.
Social media and cell phones have disrupted classes in the past, but now they can be used as a new and creative way to engage your students over and over again.
To continue to integrate technology in your classroom and be on top of cutting-edge practices, isn't it time to continue your own education and prepare for what tomorrow's classroom will be? Central Michigan University has a wide variety of education programs taught online and designed for working teachers. Whether you want to deepen your skills or prepare for future classroom technology integrations, you can do it with
CMU's master's and doctoral programs in educational technology.