When I started using Twitter in the classroom, it was to more easily connect with my students and share out information. I used it to send reminders about upcoming class work or to share out links to resources they might find useful or interesting. Students would tell me that they would actually click the links I sent out about interesting science articles or videos that dealt with what we were learning in the classroom, as well as stuff that we weren’t learning about. The fact that so many of my students followed me and used this as a way to continue learning without having any points assigned to it showed that there is a high potential for learning to go on beyond the class period using social media.
Using social media in the classroom is a great way to connect with students and is a very simple and efficient way to create another avenue of learning. Social media is a tool that many of our students use and use very regularly and the fact that so many teachers are afraid to use it shows the multitude of opportunities that we are missing. Google+ and Twitter are some of the easiest to use to get started but teachers have also used Pinterest and Facebook to connect. While I am a fan of Twitter and the public nature of Twitter, no worries from others about the private nature often seen with Facebook, these are all tools that can be used in connection with the learning that is taking place in the classroom. They do not replace that learning but they can accentuate it. They can introduce another element to the learning process, one where the students can get feedback from a teacher quickly or just be able to get resources and ideas from what has been shared.
The key is to find that tool that works for you as a teacher and for your students. I started with Twitter because my students at the time were using it. Twitter has become so much more to me now as I connect with so many educators across the world and it is my own professional development plan. I still have students following me on Twitter today but there are other options out there to use. If you are a teacher who is already using a tool like Pinterest outside of the classroom, it might be a lot easier to use it in the classroom. You don’t necessarily have to learn a new tool but just learn how to use that tool in a new environment.
As we head into summer we can make use of those connections on social media to keep our students on that learning path. We can use it to help show that learning does not just happen between the bells at school but can happen at any time and anywhere. We can share what we are learning about and we can share out links to those resources that can encourage learning. An interesting news article about some new discovery in science was always something I would share out with my students, especially if it was interesting enough to all that they would be learning without viewing it as such. To this day I have former students retweeting links and resources that I send out which shows that I still have a connection with them in regards to their own learning that does not revolve around any grade or score. This way, the school year may end but the learning does not have to.