Today’s students are immersed in a media world that is quite different than the one most of us grew up in, and research has shown that they learn in different ways as well. Integrating social media into the classroom can be an effective way to generate student interest and enthusiasm in traditional school subjects. Students are also more likely to be engaged when classroom structures emphasize group work and active learning.
Peer-to-peer learning is an educational model that encourages students to work cooperatively. Students are encouraged to express their viewpoints, ask questions and discuss issues. With peer-to-peer learning, everyone can be a teacher and a student. Social media can be an effective route towards promoting peer-to-peer learning.
While some schools are blocking social media in order to prevent online bullying and access to obscene materials, others are channeling social media in innovative ways that promote learning. Using tools like Twitter, Tumblr and YouTube in the classroom can help students work collaboratively; formulate, express and discuss their viewpoints; and become active participants in classroom discussions. Savvy teachers can also use social media tools to discuss issues like online bullying and digital citizenship.
Here are just a few examples of how to effectively integrate social media into your classroom in order to enhance peer-to-peer learning:
- Create a Classroom Blog
Many classrooms are now integrating blogging as classroom activity. Blogging can supplement any subject matter, but it is perhaps especially easy to integrate into writing and social science classrooms. Blogging about relevant topics and commenting on classmates’ posts can provide a richer experience for students than traditional writing assignments. Classroom blogs are also a great way to showcase student work and connect with other schools. Some schools are employing Tumblr for more engaging and youth-focused microblogging.
- Integrate Media Production Activities
Almost any subject matter lends itself to collaborative media production activities. You can have your biology students create a podcast about genetic variation. Your English literature students can create a web comic addressing the symbolism in The Great Gatsby, and your social science students can create video mash-ups about Prohibition. In addition to working together to create media projects, students can analyze each other’s projects, adding another dimension of peer-to-peer learning.
- Create Conversations with Twitter
Using a monitored Twitter stream in the classroom is a great way to allow students to comment and ask questions and answer questions. It’s also a great way for more timid students to make their voices heard. Some teachers may have qualms about using a tool as open as Twitter in the classroom; however, there are alternatives designed specifically for educations, such as Edmodo which offers a secure social learning network.
- Use Online Content to Spark Discussions
It’s no secret that students find media and popular culture engaging. Often, there is a clear way to connect the latest online meme or YouTube hit to your classroom topic. If you want to use more traditional educational videos, YouTube Teachers is a great way to search for relevant educational videos on a wide variety of topics without the fear of accidentally accessing inappropriate materials.
There are a multitude of ways to integrate social media into your classroom experience, When used effectively, these tools help foster students’ collaboration, critical thinking and communication skills.
Leslie Martinka is the marketing manager at Hark.com, the world’s largest platform for pop culture sound bites. Leslie is well-versed in the skills needed to execute a marketing campaign from strategy to analytics. Leslie has a Master’s degree in Communication and Leadership from Gonzaga University and a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Seattle University.