10 Ways Social Media Will Transform Your School

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A few years ago, I introduced social media to my middle school students. It started with a simple stand-alone message board. I asked them to watch a streaming video at home and provide feedback to me and their peers online.

Little did I know that this single assignment, engaging students with an online message board, would forever change instruction.

Virtual transformation

Social learning is a critical part of the 21st-century classroom. If you’ve hesitated to use social networks in your classroom, consider these 10 ways that social media will transform your school.

  1. You’ll see unbridled engagement — Ask your students to take out pencil and paper, and they will cringe. Tell them to prepare to discuss something on Twitter or Todaysmeet room, and every student will participate.
  2. You can teach appropriate use — Students will never read three-page Acceptable Use Policies, filled with Do’s and Don’ts. Ask them to take out their devices, and start a discussion on how to appropriately use social media, and they’ll embrace appropriate use immediately.
  3. It will help you teach digital citizenship — Our students are digital citizens, but this birthright doesn’t mean they’re good citizens. Social media use will help hone the skills and responsibilities that come with using social networks.
  4. You can all share powerful information — Social media is about sharing, so why not share classroom content for learning around your school and around the world.
  5. It builds a classroom of curators — The 21st century is about content curation. Nothing encourages this more than social media.
  6. It encourages autonomy — With multiple platforms and so much content to share, students can choose what they curate and which platforms to use. This autonomy will make them independent learners, eager to teach others.
  7. It will make your students writers — You can throw out your worksheets and workbooks. Social networks make students writers. With mini lessons from you on appropriate style and diction, the platforms will do the rest.
  8. Your students will become avid readers — Break out The Great Gatsby and you’re likely to lose more than half of your students. That goes for the science text, too. Let your students find a favorite book on Figment or an article on Issuu, and they’ll read until you make them stop.
  9. Students will become creative geniuses — With social networks like Vine and Padlet, students can share their creativity, while also learning your subject matter.
  10. It manages your content — With a social network like Edmodo, Schoology or even Facebook, you can manage all of your students’ content and social sharing in one place. This is not the best way to engage in social media, but it will work and the kids will still love it.
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Mark Barnes is the Founder of Times 10 Publications, which produces the popular Hack Learning Series, The uNseries, and other books from some of education's most reputable teachers and leaders. Barnes presents internationally on assessment, connected education, and Hack Learning. Connect with @markbarnes19 on Twitter.

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