Many teachers believe social media doesn’t have a place in the 21st-century learning environment; it is simply a tool for people to keep their friends up to date with their lives, right? Or is it?
Teacher Petri Ahokas, from Turun Normaalikoulu school, Norssi in Finland, explains how he uses social media ethically and legally to engage his eight and nine year old students in learning.
When we look at the process of social media it is easy to consider its place in the learning environment. Taking Facebook as an example of a social media site, as a user you'd set up a personal page and profile and start to communicate news to friends. You want the information you write to be interesting, amusing and informative, but how do you best convey the message you want to get across?
I read messages from other friends and if their communication is worthy I choose to become a ‘fan’. Writing effectively and creatively can therefore decide how many ‘fans’ I attract; an important thing for young people. I then have to decide whether I want to illustrate the message with an associated picture image; this can’t be too large a file size so I may need to use a graphics editor to resize the image. Suddenly I’m stepping into the learning space of computer science.
I strongly believe that while reading, writing and arithmetic will always remain necessities for the classroom, the successful child of tomorrow will be the child who can easily maneuver across all social media platforms. The pupil who effectively understands e-etiquette and e-safety, as well as mastering all the tools the digital world offers, will be leaps and bounds ahead of their peers who have only learned basic computer skills. Social media sites, designed for young students, are ideal for keeping students safe, while allowing them to explore independently.
Social learning is a critical part of the 21st-century classroom. If you’ve hesitated to use social networks in your classroom, consider these 10 ways that social media will transform your school.
- You’ll see unbridled engagement — Ask your students to take out pencil and paper, and they will cringe. Tell them to prepare to discuss something on Twitter or Todaysmeet room, and every student will participate.
- You can teach appropriate use — Students will never read three-page Acceptable Use Policies, filled with Do’s and Don’ts. Ask them to take out their devices, and start a discussion on how to appropriately use social media, and they’ll embrace appropriate use immediately.
- It will help you teach digital citizenship — Our students are digital citizens, but this birthright doesn’t mean they’re good citizens. Social media use will help hone the skills and responsibilities that come with using social networks.
- You can all share powerful information — Social media is about sharing, so why not share classroom content for learning around your school and around the world.
- It builds a classroom of curators — The 21st century is about content curation. Nothing encourages this more than social media.
- It encourages autonomy — With multiple platforms and so much content to share, students can choose what they curate and which platforms to use. This autonomy will make them independent learners, eager to teach others.
- It will make your students writers — You can throw out your worksheets and workbooks. Social networks make students writers. With mini lessons from you on appropriate style and diction, the platforms will do the rest.
- Your students will become avid readers — Break out The Great Gatsby and you’re likely to lose more than half of your students. That goes for the science text, too. Let your students find a favorite book on Figment or an article on Issuu, and they’ll read until you make them stop.
- Students will become creative geniuses — With social networks like Vine and Padlet, students can share their creativity, while also learning your subject matter.
- It manages your content — With a social network like Edmodo, Schoology or even Facebook, you can manage all of your students’ content and social sharing in one place. This is not the best way to engage in social media, but it will work and the kids will still love it.
I must say the article above is all very well and good, but this site is meant to be about fun. So hear for your amusement is a photo of a goat, in a tree...