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14 September 2015

Using social media in the classroom

There is a huge myth about using social media in the classroom. Some think that if you use it, children will be talking to their friends on Twitter or Facebook without paying any attention while the teacher is trying to teach. Well, that can be true, but only if you do things wrong!

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other Social Networks can be great resources for teachers to use in the classroom with students if they do so correctly.

To give just one example, Twitter is a very interesting and entertaining way we can use technology to engage students in certain topics, that is why many teachers have taken advantage of this useful tool that allows them to keep their classes both engaged and up-to-date on the latest technologies.

With Twitter we are able to interact with people from all around the world, set debates, keep parents informed about what their children are doing in class at that precise moment and many other things.

Just take a look at the possibilities a teacher has to keep students interested in their studies using technology.

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Effective ways to use Twitter in the classroom:

1. Tweet or post status updates as a class. Teachers can tweet about upcoming due dates or assignments and students can collaborate on different projects and keep a quick reference on any changes.

2. It’s a great way for students to write for the world and share all their knowledge at the same time they learn.

3. Communicate with other classrooms, teachers and students from all around the world.

4. Subscribe to news feeds as a way to compare and contrast how different perspectives interpret certain events and issues, as well as sharing interesting news and links.

5. Students are able to track a #hashtag (type of label or tag used on social networks which makes it easier for users to find messages with a specific theme or content). This allows them to find new information in a much faster and dynamic way, making research much easier. We are able to follow issues we want to know more about by subscribing to relevant hashtags and accounts.

6. Teachers are able to engage students in authentic learning facilitating discussions, as students are now able to post responses and open up intelligent discussions with one another.

7. Synchronise with educational blogs that can be of great use for students to find new and relevant information about certain topics.

8. Older students are able to follow relevant personalities on Twitter as a new way to explore different career options, talk to other professionals and find more about what they want to do in life depending on the path they decide to choose.

9. Engage parents keeping them informed allowing them to follow activities, discuss some of the lessons and the progress on certain school projects.

10. Teachers are able to post exam sample questions or any other supplementary material like interesting articles, commentaries and any other useful information that could be relevant to teach a specific subject or class.

11. Teachers could use Twitter to make recommendations, discuss films, books or documentaries.

12. Twitter is a great tool to learn how to summarize as students can only type a 140-character or less summary of what they have learned and perhaps pose any questions to be considered in the next class.

13. We can even use Twitter as a tool that allows us to practise a certain language by creating an account to interact with users from around the world to share useful and interesting in the language we would like to improve.

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Using Twitter in the classroom is a great tool to keep students interested in any topic because right now, children are completely hooked up in new technology and it is time for teachers to use it as a new education tool as it can establish a nurturing classroom environment for students of all ages if used properly.

It is our responsibility to teach students how to be effective collaborators when using social media, because it has become an essential tool for twenty-first-century citizens.

We are currently living in a world of technology, so it is extremely important for schools to show how networking can change the way students look at education instead of regarding social networks and technology in general, as something that only affects their social lives.

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