Sep 12 2016

3 Ways Educators Can Embrace Social Media to Increase Engagement

By using digital tools, teachers can promote more interactivity and community outreach.

You don’t often see social media and the classroom mentioned together in the same sentence — unless it’s to say one doesn’t have a place in the other. The reality is social media is engrained in all we do. In spite of that, only 13 percent of K–12 teachers were reported by Education Week’s Market Brief to use social media in the classroom.

The latest statistics from MDR’s State of the K–12 Market 2015 report show that 21 percent of school districts have implemented a bring-your-own-device policy, and that number is only expected to rise.

So, powered by increased mobile devices in the classroom, what if we brought social media out of the shadows and used it for learning? The possibilities for engagement with parents and the community abound as well.

Here are a few ways educators can use social media to engage with parents and students this school year.

Twitter as a Tool to Reinforce Digital Citizenship

For a while now I’ve been an advocate for schools and districts to use Twitter to engage with their communities. So, why can’t teachers do the same? Twitter is an easy to use platform that allows for quick information transfer and storytelling. Accounts can be managed by the teachers themselves, or better yet, why not reinforce those digital citizenship skills students are developing by letting them run the account.

Tweets can be simple reminders to students and parents about work that might be due, projects that are coming or a nudge to bring their laptop to class tomorrow. My daughter’s classroom Twitter account allows me to get almost a play-by-play of what is happening in the class. Summarizing a math lesson or recalling something interesting they read that day is another way to engage.

Instagram Can Reinforce Classroom Learning

Photos are another powerful tool that can be used to engage students and parents. Instagram in particular is another easy to use platform that many are already familiar with, one that easily fits into the classroom.

Point, shoot, comment, post. It’s so easy any student can learn to do it (and odds are they can do it better than adults). Again, accounts can be run by the teacher or by students. And don’t forget, there is video too!

Photos and videos can be powerful learning tools. For students, finding living objects that reinforce math concepts or discovering videos of science in action can enrich any learning environment. These could easily be shared to a combined class account for all to view and discuss.

For parents, imagine the powerful message that is sent through a simple photo or video of their student embarking on a learning journey, winning an award or making the big play in the game.

Periscope Enables Live Broadcast for Parents

A relatively new kid on the social media block, Periscope gives anyone the ability to be their own life camera crew by simply using the camera on their mobile device. Open the app, give the stream a title and press start, and you’re on your way to broadcasting to the world. No special equipment or microphones needed.

In the classroom, Periscope could be used to live-stream events like project presentations so parents and the community at large can see the learning as it happens.

Hardly anyone works regular hours anymore. Periscope can be used to bridge that gap by broadcasting the PTA meeting, sporting events or anything else where it could be difficult for parents or the community to attend.

Christian Chan/ThinkStock

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