There are 243 million people using the internet in India, and this number may rise to 500 million by 2016. Facebook has around 100 million users in India, followed by Twitter with 33 million. And 5.5 million in India use Pinterest. Most of these people have and use smartphones, to access their social media accounts.
With such an ever-increasing digital presence usage in our country, shouldn’t teachers be trying to connect with students where they can be found most frequently?
Contrary to parents and teachers’ beliefs, social media doesn’t always shave to be a gigantic distraction or just a way to spy on other people. It can be used by educators to connect with their students.
1. Collaboration: Social media’s first and foremost purpose is to connect people. Students can take advantage of this fact to collaborate with other students and teachers to create projects, to share information quickly, and to set up online meetings, and so on.
2. Communication: Teachers can set up a discussion forum or create a group on Facebook, where students can freely ask questions and get their doubts fixed. Students are often more open to asking questions online, rather than in person in a classroom in front of their peers. Students can also set up their own little study groups- without the eye of a teacher on them- and share notes. Using Youtube to show students on of the million interesting videos in class, instantly creates a Flipped Classroom!
3. Network: Students and teachers can also set up discussion groups where they can connect with teachers and students from other schools and institutions, discuss a particular topic, exchange ideas on how to teach a topic better, and share other information as well. Sites like Vine and Instagram can serve as ways for students to showcase experiments and projects. Instead of creating a 50 page assignment that nobody wants to read, how about asking them to shoot a Vine or an Instagram video?
4. Twitter: Teachers can also share information and foster discussion via their twitter feeds. Create a nice unique hashtag for whatever topic you want your students to discuss, and peruse their tweets- you might even learn something new. If you’re feeling particularly brave, you could even ask students for feedback on your teaching techniques.
5. Blog: If you have more research or material to share with your students, create a blog. This is a great way to get students to cultivate a reading habit, as well. Or create a Pinterest board of interesting articles/puzzles/reading material you’ve found for your students. You can even ask your students to showcase their projects and papers via Pinterest and Scribd.
The possibilities for using the internet and social media for education are endless. Social media doesn’t always have to be a distraction. It can be a great tool you can use to share information and procure data on your students and their thoughts. The question is, how will you use it? And what kind of interaction will your methods promote?