Using Social Media in the Classroom

Social Media has changed the way people connect. Twitter, Facebook, and other sights allow people to engage in ongoing conversations by the click of a button, and this includes students in a classroom. A blog allows the student to engage in an ongoing conversation, and the student can go back and review the previous information since the blog saves the information. The discussion is typically informal, ongoing, and permanent (on record). Some teachers promote blogging for educational purposes; some teachers oppose blogging for educational purposes. Blog usage can provide the student with an audience outside the classroom, so why would teachers not use blogs if such technology helps the student learn? A clear-cut answer may be desirable, but it may not be possible because blogs, like anything else, offers some educational advantages, as well as presents some challenges. Benefits of blogging versus challenges of blogging: which one wins out? The following overview takes a look at each side from the standpoint of an educator: Benefits of Using a Blog for Student Writing and Other Educational Purposes
  • Writing on a blog provides the student with an unrehearsed audience. Imagining an audience outside the teacher can be difficult. The student typically views the teacher as the intended audience and includes the information in writing that the teacher would desire, rather than the information for whom the argument is intended. Allowing the student to engage in a blog conversation allows the student to place the writing outside the classroom, making the writing vulnerable to criticism from outside sources.
  • Allowing a student to engage in a blog conversation where others can see the posts helps the student understand that others are reading because someone other than for whom the student intends the message may respond. A response from an unintended audience member may be kind, but it may not be. Either way, the student learns from the outside response that word choice counts, arrangement of words counts, and aim of words count. Such an exercise helps the teacher hold the student responsible for the written word.
Challenges of Using a Blog for Student Writing and Other Educational Purposes
  • One of the biggest challenges with allowing a student to use a blog for educational purposes (even outside the physical classroom) is who owns the information that the student produces? If the blog exists within the school’s computing system, the school owns the information. This gives the school the right to govern what takes place in such a blog. What about blogs outside the school’s computing system? Who holds authority over social media blogs that the school does not own, but involves students (and possibly teachers)? Who governs should a mishap take place with a student post?
  • Facebook and Twitter are two popular social media sights that allow blogging or blog-like communication for the student, and schools are using such popular blog tools to manage other areas of school. For instance, some schools use such social media tools to create an official page for the school to deliver important updates and to help people stay connected. What happens, though, when unhealthy correspondence takes place on the official page? Is the school or the social media site liable? Can a school make disciplinary decisions based on what the student posts on such social media sites?
The bottom line seems to come to this: Using a social media blog provides excellent opportunity for the student to learn how to write toward an intended audience, while considering unintended audience. At the same time, using a social media blog that exists outside the school’s computing system leaves open the possibility of abuse to the student (and possibly even by the student) without any legal repercussion. Should the teacher chance blog usage for education? Should the school allow blog usage for education? You decide.

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