August 13, 2013
Teens can’t seem to help themselves when it comes to posting on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, and the trend doesn’t seem to be letting up any time soon. Rather than exorcising social media from the classroom, many teachers are using aspects of it as a new educational tool, and it seems to be working in ways no one would’ve thought possible just a few years ago.
In today’s schools, 96 percent of students with Internet access say they use social networking sites. Around 56 percent of students who use these sites also talk about educational topics online. Of these students, around 50 percent talk specifically about their schoolwork assignments. If you ask the schools, they report that around 59 percent of students use social networking for educational purposes.
Perhaps this is why about 35 percent of schools now issue student- or teacher-run blogs. Many schools – 27 percent have also created online communities for teachers and administrators. Another 46 percent allow students to participate in online pen pal or other international programs.
Skype, YouTube, and Facebook are the most popular social networks used in schools, and schools know it. In an effort to keep students on task, around 69 percent of American high schools have banned cell phones from the grounds. Classroom-driven social media experience, however, is another story. Many say that students benefit from these interactions by learning collaboratively, developing essential 21st century skills, cultivating a positive attitude about technology, creating online connections, stimulating online engagement, discussion and understanding, and increasing academic or educational networking.
What exactly are these students doing in terms of social media educational activity? Many teachers are creating Pinterest boards that allow “show and tell” activity for students and parents; they pin students work and projects to these online bulletin boards. Teachers also manage Facebook pages that are viewed by both students and teachers, where they can post homework assignments. Parents like these because they can know exactly what is expected from their teens.
One social media pilot program in Portland, Oregon saw a 50 percent increase in student grades, a one-third reduction in chronic absenteeism, and 20 percent of students began completing extra assignments for no additional credit. The program would text wake up calls to students, improving chronic absenteeism by 35 percent; these texts didn’t cost anything for the school.