Using Social Media In The Classroom!
Social media has become a powerful form of communication for students. However, despite social media being a widespread tool for conversation amongst children and youth, there is still a gap in the use of social media in the classroom (Altenbach, 2016). One of the challenges teachers face is using social media as an educational tool in lieu of a source of entertainment. Furthermore, social media provides students with a wide range of access to information, however, students struggle with differentiating between valid and reliable sources of information.
In an effort to combat these issues, this past week myself and one of the teachers at school worked on integrating Social Media into her Grade 12 Social Studies class with a focus on using Twitter as a research tool.
We conducted this in a workshop that spanned two classes.
Workshop Day 1
Initially, we provided students with an overview of Twitter as well as best practices for conducting themselves as positive digital citizens while on Twitter. We created an account for her class and used Group Tweet as a tool to allow multiple students to post to the class Twitter account which the teacher was able to moderate. We then explored the concept of hashtags by providing students with an opportunity to search for their favourite actors or musicians and examine what they were tweeting about and what hashtags they were using. We then extended upon these issue by having students explore social justice issues on Twitter, hashtags surrounding them, and exploring Tweets by verified vs. unverified users and differences between them.
Workshop Day 2
On day two of the workshop, we introduced the concept of primary and secondary sources. We explained how social media research can be conducted in two parts:
1. Audience- Who is posting? Who is engaging?
2. Context- What is being discussed?
We then had students analyze tweets pertaining to a social justice issue based on Audience and Context. This activity culminated in students writing their own educational tweet using the class hashtag #HSE4M and tagging related influencers. We used the website Group Tweet to create a class account for students to post from that could be moderated by the teacher.
The following are slides used to support this presentation:
This exercise proved to be a powerful tool in enabling students to become global participants. In their exploration of social justice issues, my colleague had her students watch the Ted Talk Our Story of Rape and Reconciliation. Inspired by the talk, one of her students chose to construct her educational tweet as a question to the Ted Talk Speaker Thordis Elva. To our surprise and delight, Thordis Elva responded to the tweet:
This effectively demonstrated to students how digital tools such as Social Media can be a powerful vehicle to promote change, sharing, and communication.
Altenbach, Courtney, "Social Media in the Classroom" (2016). Education and Human Development Master's Theses. 642. http://digitalcommons.brockport.edu/ehd_theses/642
Sherchan, D. (2012, January 29). How are people using social media to conduct primary research? Retrieved March 20, 2017, from https://www.quora.com/How-are-people-using-social-media-to-conduct-primary-research