Technology has given teachers a giant toolbox of resources for the classroom. However, sometimes it’s outside the classroom that you can make the most difference. The internet is a powerful tool for you to extend your reach to current, past, and potential students.
“It [the internet] offers powerful and varied ways for students and teachers to interact, manipulate data, and conduct research.” – Thirteen.org
The newest online craze, Pinterest, is finding its way into everyone’s business plan. The newest way to establish relationships through photo pinning on the web is currently driving more traffic than Google+, LinkedIn and YouTube combined. There are a variety of ways that you can use this to your benefit.
- Share classroom ideas: Teachers everywhere can use this is a way to share classroom design ideas. You don’t have to be following someone to see their pins, so a teacher in Australia can easily share ideas with someone in Kansas City.
- Share teaching methods: If you came up with a great lesson, share it. This is an easy way to contribute your knowledge with others in your profession.
- Share reading lists: You can create different boards for various subjects or authors. Simply pin books in the right spot, and allow your students to interact. Give them extra credit assignments that require them to visit your Pinterest page and pick a book.
Blogging is a great way for teachers to reach students in their classroom and blogosphere alike. Blogging presents you with an opportunity to share your knowledge outside the perimeter of the school. For yourself, your students or fellow teachers, get inventive with blogging.
- Create a blog with students: Create a collaborative blog for your students. Allow them to create content, post it and share it with friends and family. You can post outside of the classroom with homework tips or project ideas. Students can use it as a way to share exceptional book reports or essays with the class.
- Create a blog for other teachers: When you do something great in the classroom, you want others to benefit from it as well. Having a blog can give you an outlet to share your successes, failures and thoughts with other teachers around the world.
- Create a blog with your coworkers: This is a great way to collaborate with other teachers, combining two or more subjects into a singular project. You can use the blog for project directions, posting updates or student questions.
Udemy.com is an online classroom offering free courses. The lessons are taught by teachers, professional educators and experts in their field. As a grade school or high school teacher, you may have something to offer older students as well.
- This is a great way to keep yourself current, forcing you to stay up to date with teaching practices for people of all ages.
- You can extend your teaching footprint.
- You can take on topics that you may not normally cover in your regular classroom.
As a teaching professional, LinkedIn is a valuable tool for networking opportunities and linking with coworkers. This can also serve as a vehicle for connecting with previous students. If you’ve had an impact on someone, it can be beneficial to stay in contact with them. LinkedIn provides a professional way to do that.
- References: With LinkedIn students can give you a good reference and vice versa. This can help you to establish professional relationships with students who you had a good experience with.
- Groups: Use the groups feature to connect with other teachers. This can be a good forum to bounce ideas through, give suggestions and stay up to date with what is happening in other classrooms.
Twitter is a very informal medium for interacting with students. However, if used properly, it can be a great way to get your students involved on a level they understand, outside the classroom. How on earth can Twitter be used for students?
- Group discussions: This is an excellent place to hold student discussions. When you create a hashtag, such as #HuckleberryFinEnglish204, it creates a thread for anyone using that same tag in their post. Give your students the hashtag and hold class discussions. This can be done as homework, allowing them to interact with you and other students after school hours.
- Homework questions: This can be an outlet for students to ask questions about homework and get an immediate response. Still, as an informal outlet for discussion, strict rules should be put into place first.
While online resources have their place in the classroom, they can be beneficial for you outside of the classroom as well. Whether you are connecting with current students, those who you’ve had in the past or other teachers, using the internet to extend your realm of teaching can be beneficial to students and teachers alike.
Jessica Sanders is an avid small business writer touching on topics from social media to merchant services. She writes for an online resource that gives advice on topics including phone systems for b2b lead generation resource, Resource Nation.