Doing work that matters. All students should be able to be part of that. No longer working for the teacher’s wastebasket, students across the world are connecting and sharing like never before. They are led by teachers unafraid of the world but who escort their kids out to meet the future.

While a recent poll showed 9 out of 10 teachers do not use social media in the classroom, there are teachers who are. Social doesn’t have to be a distraction and kids can be safe. Let’s dive into ten ways teachers have used social media in the classroom to enhance learning. These are some of my personal favorites among many. Please share yours in the comments.

Advantages of Using Social Media for Students in Education

1.  Social Media can increase student collaboration. Students become friends with their classmates on social media and are more likely to collaborate on projects. This can lead to higher retention rates as students become more connected to the institution.
2.  Faculty can use social media as a way to get students to participate. Many students are naturally shy in person, and many may not speak up in a classroom, but that may not be the case on social media. Today’s students grew up on social media, and for many, it is the natural way to interact. Faculty can ask questions on social media such as Twitter and students can answer those questions, by including a specific hashtag. This not only allows the faculty to find the student answers but also allows other students to see what others are answering and create a dialog. Many learning management systems incorporate a discussion board to accomplish this same educational pedagogy but are just as useful if not more by using a social media platform.
3.  Social Media can be useful for team projects. Many colleges stress the importance of the soft skill of working in groups. Social Media sites can be helpful to increase this ability as the students can hold meetings in real time and work on their projects. This enhances the likelihood that they will also spend time together working on projects and may not have to make time to meet in person all the time as the project progresses. Having teams work together using social media only strengthens advantage one and two in your educational activities.
4.  Social media can provide a richer experience for resources. Videos, resource websites, and tutorials can be shared very easily with the entire classroom at the click of the button. This eliminates the need for students to copy website links from a handout and have the risk of mistyping. It is much easier just to click a link than to type it.
5.  Video Conferencing in the Classroom is also a significant benefit. Using social networking sites such as Google Plus will allow the use of Google Hangouts. These sort of resources can be used to setup class sessions where everyone can collaborate through video in real time. Google Hangouts can also be saved for future reference, in case one of the students has a conflict and can not make the meeting.
Social media can be a powerful enhancement to the way students are educated, but it does take some planning and thought process before implementation. If you have any other effective strategies for using social media in the classroom, please let us know in the comments.

1. Jacques du Toit and the Tweeting Aztecs
Aussie teacher Jacques du Toit has his students create Twitter accounts as many of the well known Aztecs. They tweet events as if they are happening. This creative use of Twitter is allowed because Twitter permits the use of pseudonyms. He told me that his students became so engaged into what various characters would be saying and doing. How did they link together? A hashtag.

2. Karen Lirenman and her Tweeting First Graders
Using a Twitter account, @MrsLsClass, Karen Lirenman and her class share their work with the world. When I interviewed her, she has a system and way to keep them safe and share their best work. Worth a follow!

3. Kathy Cassidy’s Blogging Six Year Olds
Kathy Cassidy’s classroom blog is an endearing example of when students are allowed to blog and share their work. When I interviewed Kathy, she said, ‘I really want our classroom blog to be a digital portfolio of their developing skills.’

4. Julie Hembree’s Global Poetry Unites Project
Global Poetry Unites is all over Twitter right now for National Poetry Month. It may be a US month, but classrooms are participating from everywhere! Just look at the hashtag #ClrPoem on Twitter and you’ll see lots of kids involved in the current challenge to write a poem using the color red. The challenges change but follow along in Julie’s Online Notebook about the project.

5. Michael Hayes’ 9 o’clock Science Challenge on Facebook
So, Michael Hayes is a science teacher. He has a YouTube channel but the world becomes his classroom at 9 pm each night when he posts his 9 o’clock challenge on Facebook. He gets prizes and sends them to people all over the place. Many people compete although he started this for his students. What a blast!

6. PS22 Chorus on YouTube and Facebook
If you’ve never heard the PS22 Chorus voices or seen what their teacher, Gregg Breinberg, has done, then grab your headphones and a hanky and take a listen on YouTube or Facebook. They sang to one of their teachers who had recently been diagnosed with cancern I’m Going to Love You Through It. Wow. They’ve had Pop Stars, Rock Stars and done so much. Social media has transformed the program and the school.

7. Lake Brantley High School and To Be Kind
I recently learned about Lake Brantley’s movement when seeing some kindness bulletin boards posted by Stacy Eck. I interviewed them about their junior high school’s program to encourage kindness. #tbk is becoming a movement of sorts with many schools seeing it as a way to stamp out bullying by teaching kids to be kind. They are on Instagram and many places.

8. Yollis’ 366 Project
While Linda Yollis has a fantastic classroom blog, her 366 Project is incredible. She has clear instructions for how students from around the world can submit their photos to be shared. These photos make great writing prompts, conversation starters, and can spur on so many ideas in the classroom.

9. Kevin Jarrett’s STEM Lab Projects and Capstones
Kevin Jarrett is one of the leaders in STEM / STEAM lab creation. His students are sharing their 2016 capstone projects on their blog. They are using design thinking and combining it with empathy. What a powerful, unique way to use science and math and socioemotional learning!

10. Making Apps that Matter
I’m partial to this group of students. My classroom is one of the five classrooms programming apps that matter in MAD about Mattering. We are doing it right now. As I write this post, students are firing up their social media posting and creating the web pages for the apps that they have programmed meeting the heartbreaks they have. The first week of May 2016, they be shared their creations with the world and using social media to share the message, encourage people to test their apps, and ask for support for their projects. Susan Bearden has made a list of their handles and is adding them as they are created.