There are some great articles on using social media as an educator or using it to connect your classroom to others, yet very little is written to guide educators in selecting the best social media tools for the intended use.
Here is a breakdown of my favorite tools to connect and what I share with the world.
1. Twitter- my number one resource and addiction. Through twitter I connect with other educators, ask questions, and gain insight into what works. I love that everyone is willing to share their expertise for the sake of sharing (FREE!).
In return, I try to contribute with tweets of what I am working on, tutorials I find, or articles on tech implementation. Recently, I connected a friend who is a music therapist to a classroom conducting research on the topic. They set up a skype session and students used the interview discussion for their research. How cool is that? I directly impacted a student's learning experience without being in the classroom.
(For a full tutorial check out "How to Tweet for Educators".)
2. Snapchat- the social media app that I used to call the devil, is now on my phone. How did this happen? What started as a sneaky way for teens to send pictures to each other evolved into a great platform for storytelling.
I decided to use the stories feature to share behind-the-scenes moments of my job as a tech trainer. Mostly because people often ask me "What do you do all day?"
Today my story consists of a team meeting with surprise "The Walking Dead" treats like zombie blood and zombie skin. Followed by a snap of a school training about to begin. I like the ability to draw/write over my snaps and it provides a less formal way for me to share my passion and promote the great things happening in my department.
(For a full breakdown on Snapchat check out this article.)
3. Instagram- I use instagram in my personal life but leave my account public for a few reasons. First, its purpose is to provide a platform to share photos with the world. Who am I to stop someone from seeing my mom life and the monotony that comes with it? Second, I want students to see that part of being a good digital citizen is posting things you feel comfortable sharing with the world. Because after all, that is who you are sharing with- even if you set your account to private.
I also love following people locally and from all over the world who provide a glimpse into a different life. From my favorite local photographer to a girl in Germany who shares my son's rare disease.
(Even though my account is personal, here's a great example of using instagram in the classroom.)
4. Facebook- it feels like everyone has an account. Or had an account and deactivated it, because Facebook knows you'll be back so no point in cancelling. Facebook has over 1.5 billion active users*. Take a moment, let that marinate.
I use Facebook to keep in contact with family and friends who live around the world. I don't let my students follow me (at least not until they graduate) and try to keep it an intimate place for me to go with people who really know me.
I share interesting videos and articles (1 million links are shared every twenty minutes on Facebook*) as well as family photos or things promoting my city (Tampa).
(Here are some great classroom uses for Facebook though.)
Depending on your objective different tools may be needed. If you choose multiple platforms, consider varying your content. No one wants to see the same photo on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat. Remember that each platform provides a unique opportunity or way of sharing. Think of it like student differentiation but for social media.
*Statistical Resources from Leverage New Age Media.
Michelle Moore is a public education advocate who strives to empower schools and teachers to positively impact student success.
Disclaimer: This blog is a representation of my views alone and do not represent in any way the views of the school districts, organizations, or persons that I collaborate with.