What Role Does Social Media Have in Education?

EdTech, Social Media / by

What Role Does Social Media Have in Education” by Tad Druart was originally posted on Navigator.

Recently, Compass Learning interviewed about 30 educators, including teachers, principals, superintendents, directors of curriculum and learning, and consultants, at the Texas Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development conference held in Dallas. We wanted to know what role—if any—social media (Facebook, Twitter, You Tube, etc.) plays in the classroom, in the school, or in the district. The answers were interesting. Here is what we learned:

Of those interviewed, 46 percent said that social media plays a limited role in their school or district, primarily to keep parents and the community abreast of activities, schedules, and developments taking place at the school or district level. For some schools and districts, social media plays a much more prominent role, with 29 percent saying they actively use social media in their school to fully engage with students, parents, and the community. Twenty-five percent don’t use social media in any capacity.

Do You Use Social Media Resources?

  • Limited, primarily to communicate with parents and the community = 46%
  • Yes, with students, teachers, parents and the community = 29%
  • No = 25%

It’s clear that social media is starting to play a bigger role in schools and school districts, with the overall tone of the interviews suggesting interest in figuring out how to make social media work. Clearly 75 percent of those interviewed use social media in their schools or districts to some degree or another.

But this isn’t to say implementing social media doesn’t have its challenges, most notably concern for the safety and security of the students. When asked to identify the biggest challenges regarding implementing social media in schools, 39 percent identified safety and security for the students, 25 percent identified trusting the kids to use social media properly at school (in other words, not just texting friends, going to inappropriate websites, etc.), while another 25 percent identified a lack of teacher training around social media/technology as the biggest obstacle to successful implementation.

What are the Biggest Social Media Challenges?

  • Safety and security of the students = 39%
  • Trusting the students = 25%
  • Teachers need professional development/training around social media = 25%
  • Other = 11%

Many of the schools and districts that are taking advantage of social media are addressing many of these challenges head on, including getting students to sign a “responsible use” policy, getting more sophisticated with Internet filters, and simply trusting that students will do the right thing.

Even with the challenges that exist, many also see tremendous opportunities, primarily the ability to better engage with students and “meet them where they are.” Students today are digital natives, and 58 percent of those that responded feel social media will help students be far more engaged. But educators feel social media can help the teachers as well, with 42 percent of those that responded suggest social media will provide a much broader and richer network for teachers to raise questions, learn best practices, distill ideas, etc.

What are the Biggest Social Media Opportunities?

  • Better engagement with students = 58%
  • Better network for teachers = 42%

Social media and digital technologies are certainly here to stay, and the schools and districts that embrace the digital future will be the most successful in terms of engaged students and teachers ready to tackle 21st century challenges.

Parents: How do you feel about your child using social media at school? What are your concerns? Share with us in the comment section.