Social Media as an Instructional Tool

Social Media in the Elementary classroom
Social Media in the Elementary classroom

This week I have been investigating how teachers are using different social media in elementary classrooms. What I found out was  practical, useful and I can say with a high degree of certainty that it will find its way into my classroom. After reading the activity through, I decided to focus my search on 4 tools which I already new about but had very limited experience with. There are many many tools out there but I wanted my research to have focus and a point. I knew that I could get sidetracked reading about new things for hours. I already wanted to use these tools but had not got round to it. To a certain extent I wanted to kill two birds with one stone. Research without a practical purpose is just . . . looking.

I chose, Skype, Kidblog, Edmodo and Twitter and found some wonderful teachers who are using these tools in a variety of ways. I chose to use to curate the articles and I have included a link at the bottom of the page to my curated articles. I didn’t use the built in search tools, I spent hours just searching for examples – I wanted the search to be more organic and to come from me. I was a little overwhelmed at first trying to find the right kind of reflective pieces but as I read more and more, I found some excellent pieces – mostly educators blogging about their experiences.

There were several key themes that kept coming up and that all the educators embraced in some explicit or implicit way. Firstly, the purpose of using these tools is clearly linked to learning – not just doing. All the educators spoke about connectivity and real-world preparedness. Educators are using these tools to help their pupils to connect with others, communicate more effectively and reflect upon the experience. The second clear theme was that these tools are not hard to use with any age of pupil. With a little planning, thoughtfulness and collaboration they can be adapted to work with pupils in any grade level.

I learned so many practical tips that I will have to revisit the sites numerous times to make sure I have it all down. I have set some goals for myself. Conduct a Mystery Skype as soon as possible, embrace Kidblog as a place for pupils to build portfolios and love writing, open an Edmodo account and change my attitude towards Twitter. I will now see it as a tool for all of us in my class, not just a tool for me.

Classes are social places – I firmly believe one of the most important things we do in schools is to help children learn to socialize and interact with others. The world that my current 5th graders live in is very different that mine was 30 years ago. I owe it to them to help them connect and understand that world and social media must play a part in that process. It will play a part in their lives. As I teach younger pupils, obviously care needs to be taken with how these tools are introduced and used. But that applies to all that I do as a teacher so it is not a barrier to success simply something to embrace. Look out for @Quitoclass coming soon (our class is called Quito).

Thanks Andrew