To teach students how quickly something can spread on social media, Kansas-based teacher CJ Marple tweeted a message, asking others to retweet it so he could illustrate that “power,” NPR reports. He got 227,000 retweets and 75,000 replies in days.
Educators are starting to believe social media can have a positive impact on learning, even using it to connect with students about homework or to share material with peers that they think students may find helpful.
Districts, though, are not as sold on how social media can be an effective learning tool, with some issuing strict guidelines on how teachers should behave on these sites.
Social media is a tool that’s not disappearing. And certainly high school students are as familiar with these apps as their teachers. Using them in classroom lessons, though, is not a simple leap.
Certainly, digital citizenship lessons are now considered commonplace in schools. Indeed, they’re linked to digital literacy requirements found in Common Core and other standards. That’s important as students continue to be encouraged — and, truthfully, required — to be online for school work.
Restricting social media may be a missed opportunity not just for academic reasons, but also to help students learn how to be good digital citizens while on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other networks. But using social networks in an academic environment is not without peril, as schools in Nevada and Florida discovered when their social networks were compromised.
Curriculum designers must court buy-in from parents and from veteran educators, too. The latter will undoubtedly need some guidance on why these skills are helpful, along with some time for their own learning curve as they walk themselves and their students through this 21st Century terrain.