Most school leaders are scared of social media. They’ve heard the horror stories of bullies, predators, and porn harming kids though social media, and most wouldn’t even consider bringing social networking into the classroom.
Sarah Kessler published a fantastic post on Mashable yesterday that addresses the fears and cites real-world examples of how social media has had a tremendously positive effect for some schools and students.
A year after seventh grade teacher Elizabeth Delmatoff started a pilot social media program in her Portland, Oregon classroom, 20% of students school-wide were completing extra assignments for no credit, grades had gone up more than 50%, and chronic absenteeism was reduced by more than a third.
Matt Hardy, a 3rd and 4th grade teacher in Minnesota, describes the “giddy” response he gets from students when he introduces blogs. He started using blogs in his classroom in 2007 as a way to motivate students to write.
“Students aren’t just writing on a piece of paper that gets handed to the teacher and maybe a smiley face or some comments get put on it,” he says. “Blogging was a way to get students into that mode where, ‘Hey, I’m writing this not just for an assignment, not just for a teacher, but my friend will see it and maybe even other people [will] stumble across it.’ So there’s power in that.”
Safe Social Media Tools Are Available — And They’re Free
Safety of children is the biggest concern when it comes to using social media in education, and it should be. But there are several free tools available that keep kids safe including Kidblog.org, Edmodo and Edublogs.
Social Media Encourages Collaboration Instead of Cliques
Most jobs today involve teamwork and collaboration, but our educational system doesn’t prepare kids for that. How many times have we heard teachers say “Keep your eyes on your own paper,” and “Stop talking to your neighbor.”
I’m not suggesting that every assignment should be collaborative – we do need to be sure each individual child has a grasp of the fundamentals, but the world has changed significantly over the 20 years since the Internet became public. Communication and collaboration are as fundamental a part of the 21st century workplace as math and reading.
Social media as a teaching tool has a natural collaborative element. Students critique and comment on each other’s assignments, work in teams to create content, and can easily access each other and the teacher with questions or to start a discussion.
I highly recommend reading the entire article: The Case For Social Media in Schools
Do you think schools should be incorporating blogging and social media into their educational systems?