You have probably heard about all the ways you can employ social media in the classroom. Maybe you have even leveraged some of them yourself. Taking pictures of activities, showing off students’ work, and keeping parents in the loop are all useful applications. But what about outside the classroom? You only have a few hours per week with them, and your students are already on social media often enough anyway, so why not use it to connect with them when you cannot be there? Here are a few ways you can continue to shape your students’ learning experiences, even at home.
Online office hours
Many teachers host office hours where students can come to them with questions about class material, grades, or other matters. This way, you provide your students with opportunities for one-on-one instruction and clarification with you, away from other listeners. However, your office hours may not align when one of your students in need has free time, and transportation is always a factor if your hours are after the bell rings (which is especially true if your students do not have vehicles or cannot drive).
What are they to do? An email is an option, but this process is tedious for all parties involved. What you can do is offer online office hours so that you are available to more students when they need you but cannot reach you. Make a unique Facebook, Twitter, or other social media account that you keep open next to you where pupils can quickly ask questions via chat. When you enable students to speak with you from the comfort of their homes, you make education less limiting (make sure you have plenty of you-time, though!).
Consider posting assignments online. Students won’t have to write anything down that they might leave behind, and anyone who misses class will have the information readily available.
You can give unique kinds of assignments that only social media makes possible, too. Maybe they can pretend to make a Twitter account of a famous person, take pictures of science projects they complete at home, or create photo “essays” through Instagram. If you want to show off the incredible work they are doing, you can find ways to increase your classroom’s follower count so that other teachers and students can see it (you might even be able to enter a competition or two). Social media also provides opportunities for fundraising, which they will most likely do away from the classroom.
Almost every student will have questions about course material, but not all of them will be comfortable approaching you for help (and you don’t exactly have all the time in the world, either). If you start a social media group where members of each class can communicate efficiently, they can turn to one another for help and guidance. They can also collaborate more effectively on group projects and speak to classmates they would not otherwise address.
Learning does not have to be confined to the classroom while homework is outside. Edmodo is a platform that allows you to create a digital classroom where you can post assignments, manage a calendar, and message students. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram are useful for reaching young adults that use them anyway, but Edmodo is an excellent resource for a more tailored learning experience.
Edmodo boasts millions of users. The site allows you to create groups, compose quizzes, and even post videos (which you can use to provoke discussion or provide further explanations for different topics. Visuals almost always help!). You can make course material available to parents, and students can turn in their assignments online.
Besides using social channels for your students’ benefit, you can use it for your own! Many teachers seek professional development opportunities, and social media enables you to find them online.
WeAreTeachers recommends platforms such as Classroom 2.0, which connects tens of thousands of teachers who communicate through webcasts and online forums to discuss the future of education and a variety of other topics. EdWeb hosts a network of educators that even hosts webinars, and the WeAreTeachers Helpline Facebook group is for teachers who want to exchange ideas or vent frustrations.
Social media is a constant presence in modern society. People use it for distributing news, keeping in touch with friends, sharing thoughts, and other more nefarious purposes, but you have an opportunity to take advantage of its existence and foster a whole new kind of educational experience. How will you use social media outside the classroom?