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Social Media and Education

Making the Best of Social Media and Education

Parents are bombarded by news stories about the dangers of social media for children, from elementary to high school. Without a doubt, there are some serious issues that can affect the safety of children that go beyond just too much screen time. Parents know about the risks of cyber bullying as well as concerns about what your teenagers post and how it might impact college admissions.

Any technology can be used in beneficial as well as harmful ways. What if educators and parents focused on using social media and education as a way to stimulate students and help them develop study habits? The good news is that many schools are already implementing a constructive approach to social media in an effort to recognize its importance as a communication tool and to connect in a positive way to students in this tech-savvy generation.

Around the Clock Learning

More and more teachers are turning to virtual tools like Google Classroom, Edmodo, and other sites to allow students to access lessons and practice while outside of school. Teachers can post lecture videos and class notes, make assignments and even accept work online, which eliminates excuses about dogs eating homework. Students who miss a day or two can stay on track with the class when they follow along with work at home. Teachers are able to keep their classes on pace to cover the material or provide additional resources for students who want to delve further into a subject.

Helpful Hints

Another tool that teachers can use is text reminders. Students can sign up at any time during the school year to receive notifications about upcoming tests, project deadlines, and even what materials need to be brought to class. The texts are usually one-way from the teacher to the classes. Students cannot respond to the reminders, but they can always email their teacher if they have additional questions. Texting can make group projects and collaborations easier than ever because students are able to connect with each other and share their portion of the work for a finished assignment that is truly a joint effort.

Getting the Word out

Teachers are not alone in embracing technology to communicate as a way to embrace social media and education. Parent-teacher organizations, guidance offices, and school districts have pages and accounts across social media platforms. Parents and students can follow their schools through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and SnapChat to learn about school events, scholarship opportunities, club activities, and other announcements. It’s a convenient way for families to know what’s going on in their school community, and it’s even better for the schools to save their limited resources by posting instead of printing.

The Way of the Future

Since there is rarely if ever any cost to join social media, it’s an easy way to add another line of communication for anyone with access to a smart phone or computer. Educators do need to be aware that not every student or family has the latest technology. Unless the school provides every student with required hardware, they should continue to offer traditional communication options to accommodate all families. Schools usually ask about technology at the beginning of the school year to identify students who may not be able to access social media or websites on their own.

Bonus Benefits

Parents want their children to learn to take responsibility and develop strong communication skills. Students can learn these and other abilities through social media and education working together. Children can become more independent as they communicate directly with their teachers through education websites and email. They can access help for homework and coordinate group projects through convenient and direct contacts instead of waiting for the next school day.  In addition, they are developing skills including networking and media presentation. Students are able to create and share their presentations through YouTube or blog about their experiences on any number of blogging sites. By sharing these links with their peers, they are able to take experiential learning to a new level.

Parents Take Part

When parents stay involved, they can monitor their students to ensure their safety and well being in a virtual environment. They can also stress the importance of face to face interactions so that children understand social media and education is not meant to replace traditional learning and communication methods. Lastly, parents should help students set boundaries to prevent too much time on electronic devices as the expense of other activities.

When teachers and parents agree on the best ways to combine social media and education, children can learn to be organized, independent, and successful, in school and in life.

Ellen Goldman