The following article comes from Assistant Head Teacher and Director of Languages Raheem Zafar, who shares his top tips and ideas for integrating social media into your teaching practices.

Je pense, donc je suis. – Rene Descartes (“I think, therefore, I am.”)

Indeed, during these unprecedented and challenging times, the world is rethinking, reconsidering, reassessing, reviewing and reflecting in all areas of employment in order to transform a new way of working to produce new knowledge either intellectually or industrially. From the construction field to the finance industry and of course our brave “essential workers” who are at the frontline, we are all adapting and transforming our daily routines and lives in the workplace. As such, the world of education has also been aiming to fulfil its first mission for every pupil, which is the acquisition of knowledge and creating pupil identity. This article will focus on how social media can help or maximise the learning in the UK educational system.

During my experience of over 15 years as a teacher, I have always believed that education must adapt with the new methods of learning in order to adapt our teaching to the same level of communication of our pupils. Indeed, many platforms have been used during the history of education. From the use of hieroglyph in ancient Egypt, to the creation of paper until the invention of computers and smartphones.

On average, those aged 15 to 24 spend four hours a day on the phone compared with 2 hours 49 minutes for all adults. The younger age group also check their phones every 8.6 minutes, more frequently than any other age group. Our pupils aged 8 to 18 spend an average of more than SEVEN hours a day looking at screens. Knowing that the average school day in UK secondary schools is around 5–6 hours a day, 5 days a week. This concludes that a child in an age of secondary school spends equal or more amount of time in front of a screen than at school.

Kids on Social Media Platforms

The content of any devices can vary according to the age of the users. However, the suggestions in this article are aimed at pupils aged 13-16, as according to many studies, the average teenager spends one to three hours on social media every day. For some, this equates to the ideal time for pupils to spend on homework per day. Therefore, as teachers we must not ignore the importance, the influence and the power of social media for pupils to absorb information, the data and consequently knowledge.

Based on these facts, educators must accept that the most appropriate way to engage pupils with their independent learning is to attract them in a comfortable and enjoyable environment of communication which is social media. Since the broadened use of the internet in the early 2000s, many educational institutions incorporated the use of this communication method into their curriculums and one of the most advanced departments to make use of the internet was Information Technology. Nowadays, all subjects are using computers and the internet for teaching their lessons.

7 Ways to Implement Social Media in the Classroom

There are actually at least 7 simple ways we can start implementing social media in the classroom in order to experience the advantages of social media for pupils.

1. Twitter

In this portal, in order to promote pupils’ work or give any messages, we can create our own hashtags.

The idea of creating our own bespoke hashtag for our department or school event is very powerful to create an enthusiastic response from pupils as we can spark discussion on a certain topic through a classroom Twitter feed, connect students from other classes within your school, and implement a real sense of school community and excitement throughout the year groups.

How to use YouTube to engage a class

2. YouTube

All departments can use YouTube to create their own educational resources. This portal can be a great in-class activity for our pupils.

Teachers can create their own educational resources to share with others across the school. In addition, teachers and pupils can present group or individual projects.

The platform can also be promoted as a tool in extracurricular activities, school events and trips.

3. Instagram

This is a great tool that students can use to receive wider exposure. If educators use relevant hashtags it can help them reach wider audiences. In this tool, parents can follow the account and keep up-to-date with what their children have been working on.

4. Facebook

It’s perhaps one of the oldest methods of communication which has changed our modern society. There is the opportunity to promote pupils’ work in Facebook groups which could be the perfect way for students to stay connected.

Using Zoom to connect

5. Zoom

Zoom is perhaps the most appropriate way to have live communication. Indeed, these platforms can connect with classrooms from around the world: Skype or more recently, Zoom. They are a great way to connect with classrooms from around the country and the world, and they can be a great tool in MFL classes by help to develop pupils’ use of the native language they are learning.

6. Blogs

The use of blogs is often considered as the safest in terms of safeguarding as it allows pupils to create written work and comment on it. It is great way to document everything that pupils have been working on to share with parents and peers, and acts as a good exercise to improve writing and literacy skills.

7. Pinterest

The creation of these boards can be used for mind-mapping. When pupils are working on group projects, mind-mapping ideas on Pinterest can help to display their findings and research.

This will help pupils to visualise their work and means that they can work on group activities outside of the classroom without having to meet up. It also gives teachers an insight into how well their research is going.

These are just a few of the ways to reach out to our pupils during this pandemic. However, there can also be an opportunity to develop the future use of social media in education along with the necessary, traditional physical classroom.

Indeed, nothing will replace the social contact and the interconnectivity between pupils and teachers for the best acquisition of knowledge and building the future citizens of this world. Nevertheless, it is also our duty as educators to be accustomed to the new way of transferring knowledge in the most appropriate way to create an attraction of learning as nowadays, social media remains one the most appropriate ways to create a love of learning.

Raheem Zafar Author

Author

Raheem Zafar

NPQSL, NPQML, MA, MPhil, MSc,

Raheem is the Assistant Head Teacher & Director of Languages at Broadway Academy in Birmingham

Subject Leader French @ Titan Partnership – Teacher Trainee Provider – Birmingham

Raheem is an experienced, multicultural, multilingual and committed Assistant Head Teacher with a passion to raise the standards of teaching and learning in modern foreign languages.

Follow Raheem on Twitter – @raheemzafar2507.