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SOCIAL MEDIA

Social Media in the Classroom


Kimberly Lirette and Valerie Green
Nicholls State UniversityEDTL 509


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Social Media in the Classroom
There has been a recent trend with teachers questioning whether or not social media
belongs in the educational setting (Lam, 2012). According to EdTech (2013), 96% of students
have reported using social media sites. These sites play a large part in how people are
communicating with one another (Casey & Evans, 2011; Denton & Wicks, 2013). Casey and
Evans (2011) describes communicating through social networking sites as becoming part of a
routine; (p. 3) because of this, students began integrating its use for educational purposes by
creating study groups with their peers (Lam, 2012). Due to the changes in how people interact
through various means such as social networking sites, studies have been conducted testing the
validity of using these sites for educational purposes (Andrade, Castro, & Ferreira, 2012). Graber
and Mendoza (2012) point out, Social networking, blogging, gaming, video and picture-sharing,
iPods, iPhones, iPads, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and more have become a part of
the common vernacular of our time (p. 82). Because of this, teachers are trying to adapt their
methods to the new evolutions in which technology offers. Teachers are using these technologies
to allow their students to venture away from classroom books, creating a more individualized
approach for student learning, and utilizing various tools to assist in assessing students
(Arabacioglu & Akar-Vural, 2014; Casey & Evans, 2011; Cooper, 2012). Educators are studying
common uses, benefits, drawbacks, and teacher concerns of using various social networking
sites.
Before implementing social media into the classroom, there are various concepts to
consider. Wang, Lin, Yu, & Wu (2013) suggest steps a teacher should take when deciding to use
Facebook in the classroom. The teacher should express clear course requirements and rules. The
teacher should be active in order to help guide student discussion and ensure the topics are
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staying true to course content (Wang, Lin, Yu, & Wu, 2013). Along with setting course
expectations, students also need to be taught the appropriate usage through ethical or moral
guidelines. According to Graber & Mendoza (2012), Piagets Cognitive-Developmental
Approach to Ethical Thinking, initially children think differently than adults through an
egocentric understanding. Graber & Mendoza (2012) also state that through the levels of moral
development set forth by Kohlberg, as a child matures, they progress from an egotistical
viewpoint to understanding that others will have different opinions than themselves. Some
school districts have noted these theories and understand the need to teach children correct
ethical practices and digital citizenship before utilizing social networking sites in the educational
setting. This program has fostered a positive atmosphere at the school with the appropriate use
of digital technology (Graber & Mendoza, 2012).
When implemented correctly, social media could have a positive influence on the
teaching-and-learning setting by intertwining informal learning with formal learning
environments. Various social media tools can be used by students to develop their own
understanding of information by connecting with other sources of knowledge other than the
teacher; students can connect with groups of similar interests or other classes worldwide (Chen
& Bryer, 2012; Davis, 2014). Brown, Paewai, & Suddaby (2012) states Active and meaningful
learning is promoted by collaboration (p. 66). Students acquire most of their knowledge though
social interaction. According to the connectivism theory, these social interactions are assimilated
through social media technologies. Students gain their knowledge by connecting with others
thoughts through various social media sites (Chen & Bryer, 2012). Collaboration through social
media sites will provide students a more meaningful educational experience. According to Fee
(2013), by using social media sites, the teacher is enabling students to connect with other
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communities that they otherwise would not be exposed to. As an educator, it is important to
expose students to various cultures and ways of thinking; allowing students to connect with other
classrooms can expose them to different problem-solving methods.
Along with communicating with others through technology, social media sites, such as
Twitter, can be used to transform traditional lectures into a more interactive experience. Twitter
can be used in lectures through a micro blog application. Students can Tweet relevant
information or questions and it would appear in the PowerPoint presentation; this would involve
the entire class and make the lectures more interactive. The teacher is able to adjust the lecture
during the class period depending on the comments and questions posed by the students through
Twitter (Andrade, Castro, & Ferreira, 2012). According to Andrade, Castro, & Ferreira (2012),
although 85% of undergraduates have a Facebook account, teachers prefer to integrate Twitter
into the process of teaching and learning (p. 297). As a teacher, this would be a useful tool in
managing classroom discourse during a lecture.
Not only can social media sites be used to collaborate during a lecture, they can be used
to promote collaboration beyond school hours. Meishar-Tal , Kurtz, & Pieterse (2012) explain
that a learning management systems (LMS) should provide a social space aimed to create
interaction between learners (p. 35). Through the use of Facebook as a LMS, teachers can pose
a question or comment. The teacher could require students to Like the comment if they agree
or comment if they do not agree and provide an insightful response. With these comments,
students are able to build on their peers prior responses as well. Through these means, teachers
are able to assess their students knowledge (Meishar-Tal, Kurtz, & Pieterse, 2012). According
to Cherian (2009), students understand knowledge, if [they] are able to apply what they have
learned to other settings (p. 7). When students are able to provide insightful responses to
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comments posted on Facebook, it shows their true understanding of the information. Also, their
peers are able to see their responses and learn from each other; as a teacher, this is a valuable
tool.
Social media sites and LMSs can also be used for various means. Teachers can use these
sites to not only assess their students but organize course information and assignments. One key
aspect of an LMS is to be able to provide various materials; teachers can use these sites to upload
or post links to articles; provide information from class notes and lectures; and keep students
informed regarding important dates (Meishar-Tal, Kurtz, & Pieterse, 2012). Through the use of
Facebook, teachers can create a classroom page where homework assignments are available for
the viewing of both students and parents; this will reduce the amount of students that say they
were not aware of homework assignments. A teacher can also create a classroom account which
can be used to create reminders about assignments, recap daily lessons, and answer homework
questions (EdTech, 2013). Using these tools to organize course materials and keeping a calendar
of events, allows teachers to help students stay organized.
Research has proved many benefits of using social media sites in an educational setting.
According to a survey from the University of Phoenix College of Education, 47% of teacher
participants believed that using social media for educational purposes can have a positive impact
on their students education (Bidwell, 2014). Using these technologies will assist in closing the
achievement gap (Cherian, 2009). The common benefits noted by the studies were an increase
in student engagement and participation, enhanced discussions and collaboration, and an increase
in students writing skills and critiquing (Casey & Evans, 2011; Chen & Bryer, 2012; Cooper,
2012; Fewkes & McCabe, 2012; Kurtz, 2009; McArthur & Bostedo-Conway, 2012). Depending
on how social media tools are used, will determine what types of benefits will be gained. Using
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Twitter during the lesson increases student engagement and participation. This allows the
teacher to ensure their students are involved (Andrade, Castro, & Ferreira, 2012; Fee, 2013;
Kurtz, 2009). When teachers use these sites in a meaningful way by requiring these students to
reflect, comment, or write about specific assignments at home, teachers are promoting
participation beyond classroom time (McArther & Bostedo-Conway, 2012). By teachers
requiring students to discuss and collaborate using these social media sites, students writing
abilities and critiquing skills have shown to increase. Students were more careful about what
they wrote because there work was being seen by others (Davis, 2014; Kurtz, 2009). There was
an increase communication among teachers and students and their peers. Because these sites
were used as a collaboration tool, students were able to receive prompt feedback from all
participants (Wang, Lin, Yu, & Wu, 2013). Whenever completing an assignment, it is important
for the student to receive frequent feedback to ensure they are on the right path. There were
social benefits that were noted by Lam (2012): when the teacher shifts their role to a facilitator,
it benefits the student with interacting and communicating with their peers and teacher in a non-
threatening environment; it strengthens their social relationships; and it improves their
participation when they see their teacher also participating. McArthur and Bostedo-Conway
(2012) add there was a decrease in student shyness because of the positive relationships that
occur with the use of social media. Meishar-Tal, Kurtz, & Pieterse (2012) noted that one student
expressed, We have been exposed to a variety of opinions and learning materials. An instant
connection was created between everyone. I feel that the environment contributed to the
consolidation of the group (p. 42).
Not only are there many benefits in regards to students, there are also positive features for
teachers and parents. Because social media positively promotes classroom culture, the teacher is
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able to build a positive rapport with the students (Wang, Lin, Yu, & Wu, 2013). Teachers are
able to give students one-on-one assistance through these sites (Meishar-Tal, Kurtz, & Pieterse,
2012). Not only are teachers able to build positive relationships with students, they are able to
foster connections with parents as well. Devaney (2014) noted that one teacher expressed,
social media can be a valuable tool for learning and connecting with students and parents (p.
1). Teachers are always trying to find innovative ways to keep parents informed and involved
(Kurtz, 2009). Parents not only reported positive interactions with teachers, but also appreciated
being able to stay informed about classroom assignments and resources (Wang, Lin, Yu, & Wu,
2013; Kurtz, 2009). Social media is a great communication tool for teachers, students, and
parents alike.
Along with the many benefits, there are also reported drawbacks with the use of social
media sites in the educational setting. One, which is probably the most significant, is students
privacy and security concerns (Chen & Bryer, 2012; Lam, 2012; Meishar-Tal, Kurtz, Pieterse,
2012). The Family Educational Rights & Privacy Act (FERPA) requires that student
information, both personal and educational, be protected. Using social media definitely
challenges FERPA. Any information shared online spreads very quickly and can lead to
violation of this right (Chen & Bryer, 2012). A concern students expressed were the difficulties
with pinpointing old and new information, a feeling of an increase amount of work due to high
levels of messages, having to use what they view as a social and friendly tool for educational
purposes, and students feeling uneasy about their thoughts being published on this group
(Meishar-Tal, Kurtz, & Pieterse, 2012).
Teachers have also expressed many concerns about using social media for educational
purposes. Teachers are concerned with blurring the lines of personal and professionalism by
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using these social networks. Because this is a new trend in education, there is a lack of
guidelines set in place that protect the teachers from being terminated from their positions. Some
teachers are petrified to use these applications because their posts could ultimately affect their
job security (Bidwell, 2014; Devaney, 2014). Teachers have also expressed the concern with
social media being a distraction in the learning process. Because students use these sites as a
communication tool, teachers are scared that students will not work on the assignment (Davis,
2014; Graber & Mendoza, 2012). Also, teachers made apparent in the survey that professional
development would be necessary to successfully implement this practice (Bidwell, 2014;
Devaney, 2014; Fewkes & McCade, 2012). Because of these concerns, Devaney (2014)
surveyed teachers and found 55% of teachers that do not use social media expressed they do not
plan on ever utilizing these sites for educational purposes. Teachers have also voiced it was
time-consuming for both themselves and their students (Kurtz, 2009; Graber & Medoza, 2012).
In order for social media to be used in the educational setting, not only would teachers need
professional development, educational institutions will need to address concerns set-forth by
teachers.
Regardless of the lack of research completed on using social media in education, there
are still many teachers that have explored its usage (Wang, Lin, Yu, & Wu, 2013). There are
many teachers that believe it is their responsibility to use these sites to conform with ISTE
standards (Graber & Mendoza, 2012). Davis (2014) suggests that if a classroom instructor
disregards social media use in the classroom, then they need to stop pretending they are 21
st

Century teachers and discard ISTE Standards for students. There are many ways social media
can be integrated into the classroom to help with engagement, collaboration and assessment of
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students. The question still remains, do the benefits of using social media in an educational
setting compensate for the risks involved?
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References
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Education: to Tweet or Not to Tweet? The Electronic Journal of e-Learning, 10(3), 293-
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