In the past three decades, the presence of technology in the school and classroom has gone from practically nonexistent to being a vital part of the learning experience. As computers and other forms of technology filtered into the classroom, the ability to improve school communication via computer also impacted the way school districts kept parents and staff members informed.
The rapid growth of social media offers communication opportunities that are not found so easily by visiting a school district website. Many of these websites, though they’re well-intended, require the visitor to click through several screens to get to the information they desire. As technology progresses, people are less willing to go through this process when more efficient methods of communication exist. The use of social media to communicate with students and parents can help everyone stay up-to-date with what’s going on and what’s coming up.
Facebook pages are used for small businesses, celebrity fan clubs, authors and many others who wish to have a place where they can connect with others. While your classroom Facebook page may not achieve celebrity status, it is an excellent place to post homework assignments, share updates or even humorous stories from the day. The practice of posting homework assignments each day can save students and their parents a lot of frustration, and discourage excuse-making for assignments that aren’t completed. Even if it’s not used daily, this social media gathering place can increase the community feel of your classroom.
A short, 140-character Tweet is often sufficient for giving parents and students a head’s up that there’s a test scheduled or assignment due the next day. These quick reminders can be lifesavers for busy families that spend the late afternoon and early evening running from one activity or errand to the next. Use them for field trips, conferences or general reminders of supplies needed. Similar to the Facebook page, Twitter can also be used to increase parent-teacher communication.
Pinterest is a social media venue that caters to those who are visually oriented. If you take pictures in your classroom of the students working or of classroom projects, pinning them on Pinterest can be an excellent way to share the photos with parents. Before doing this, be careful to review your students’ photo releases to see if you have permission to take and post photos. Even with this, it’s often best to post photos of projects and activity results rather than of the students themselves.
Whether you use it as part of your English class lesson plans or for any other subject, having students participate in a classroom blog can be an excellent way to get them to map out their thoughts and practice writing. Assign a different student each day to take care of blogging. Be sure to provide guidelines and demonstrate how to follow them at the beginning of the year. Classroom blogs can be made available to parents and administrators only by maintaining a private blog that can be accessed only by approved or invited subscribers.
Teachers and schools that encourage the use of social media in the classroom as well as for communication are helping today’s students gain experience they’ll be able to use in their personal and business lives as adults. Incorporate social media into lesson plans when it’s appropriate to do so. Connect with students and their parents after school hours through a commonly used social media venue within the district. If the district you work in hasn’t yet incorporated these technologically advanced practices, you can help pave the way toward trends that are likely to become more predominant in the future of education.
Contributed by Lucy Harper from Touchpointdigital.co.uk, a specialist digital marketing and social media campaigns agency – follow us on Twitter.