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Social Media


Social media is now an integral part of many young peoples lives. How can I use this technology in a school environment?

Social media is now an integral part of many young peoples lives. In fact, the latest research from Ofcom suggests that almost half of young people aged between 8 and 17 have a profle on a social networking site such as Facebook. It also provides an opportunity for people all over the world to connect and exchange ideas easily.

Technology, generally, is making a fundamental change in the way that teachers interact with their classes. In fact, 58% of teachers claim to use IT in every single lesson they teach, while 77% say that they have seen a rise in classroom interaction as a result of students using technology. Research also points to teachers welcoming YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, iPads and smartphones into the learning environment.

But the influence of new forms of technology in schools stretches beyond social media. As an increasing number of children own mobile phones, netbooks and iPads, 77% of teachers in a recent survey said they believe children should be taught via their own devices.

The reason for this is that children in primary and secondary schools today are remarkably comfortable with technology, certainly far more-so than school children were even five or ten years ago. It’s clear that teachers are seeing an opportunity to harness this familiarity to connect with children through new and creative channels.

As opposed to simply providing teachers and students with computers, schools must now think about how they can make the most of social networking to spark some creativity into their lessons.

Social media as a teaching tool has a natural collaborative element. Students critique and comment on each other’s assignments, work in teams to create content, and can easily access each other and the teacher with questions or to start a discussion.

Taking some discussions online would also seem to be an opportunity for pupils who are shy or who don’t usually interact with each other to learn more about each other. 'Blogs' additionally motivate students to write, while texts can be used to reach and engage children.

At the very least, sites such as Twitter, Facebook and even  MySpace can be used to create discussion in the classroom. Teachers can pull news stories from any of those sources. Students can ask questions and facilitate deeper discussion after reading something on one of the thousands of SM sites. Pupils can locate an expert in a field they are interested in, and “shadow” them on the Web.

In this resource, we provide some essential reading on how social media is impacting on learning.

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