Social media and education have never gone hand-in-hand. That much is clear. But, have teachers, administrators, parents, and even students ever considered what bringing social media into the classroom could do? Social media is an amazing tool, one that people of all ages use to communicate and keep in touch with the world around them. Everyone nowadays, especially students, are more in tune with social media than ever before. For those that are lucky, phones and social media are allowed in schools, but those of us that aren’t so lucky are completely cut off from anything that doesn’t have to do with classes and school. While many think that that is a great thing and that social media is just an added distraction, some think in the complete opposite direction. Picture this: a classroom full of bored teenagers, staring blankly at the teacher while they lecture about something that no teenager really cares about. That’s my, and many other students’, reality. Now, imagine this: a classroom full of teenagers, cell phones in hand, eagerly searching the internet for information that their teacher requires them to get. Not only are they more engaged in class, they’re integrating something they know and love with something that they formerly disliked.
I know it sounds crazy, but I, along with many others, would be more inclined to participate in class if it involved something more than a crumbling book that was purchased in 1985 and a lecture. In 2010, the National School Board Association surveyed students all over the United States. 96% of millennials responded saying that social media was a huge part of their lives, while half of them said that they used social media to talk to other students about homework and school activities. Fast forward six years and things have definitely changed. Social media is not just a huge part of millennials’ lives, their lives revolve around it. Social media was meant as a tool to connect people, but it has become so much more. It has become a way for people to learn about what’s happening in the world, can help people find jobs, and can even benefit students. Have you ever thought about using a hashtag such as #ACT2015 for a studying tool? Students who are studying for that same ACT could connect with other students and they could help each other study and answer questions. Students can use Periscope or Snapchat to record lectures for absent classmates. They could save and share classroom resources using Pinterest or Tumblr. Students can even use Youtube to search for study guides on topics that they’re having trouble with in class.
Social media can even help students in more ways than just studying. Websites such as Facebook and LinkedIn are all about showing people what you are like by creating an online presence. What if schools provided classes to teach students how they can present themselves online in a way that expresses their personality but also doesn’t scare away future employers? These students are the future of the workforce, and if they don’t know how to manage an online profile, that could be a problem.
Social media no longer has to be an obstacle when it comes to education; it can help students create and manage a study community, make the best use of study time, and find new resources to help them learn and retain knowledge. Times have changed, and that means that it’s time for education to change along with it.
By: Harley Crawshaw | @harley_crawshaw