Education – There’s an App for That

There are well over a million apps available on the app store and the average American has 65 apps installed on their phone. 1 in every 6 people has a Facebook account and on average spends about 405 minutes on the website monthly. Roughly over 25% of Americans are on Twitter and combined send an average of 56 million tweets a day. That’s a lot of information and a lot of people sharing it.
Though technology is gradually leaking into our classrooms, many teachers and parents are still reluctant about the validity of using social media for education purposes. Some parents are worried about security, but a majority of parents are concerned about the amount of time their child spends on social media websites, time that they could be used to study.

But parents and educators shouldn’t hastily dismiss social media as an education tool. With technology developing every day and people creating new social media accounts by the minute, there are some creative and innovative ways that parents, students, and teachers can use social media to benefit education.

Using Facebook to Collaborate and Study mac-daddy of all social media sites. Over one billion people in the world have a Facebook account. A poll conducted in October 2012 found that over 60% of Americans have a Facebook account and that number is continuing to rise. But with features like chat or endless Facebook stalking, it is easy to get sucked into the world of Facebook and forget all about the homework in your backpack.
Since Facebook is one of the biggest communication platforms out there, one of the best ways it can be used is to, get this, communicate. Students should be encouraged to create a class page or a study group on Facebook where they can upload information, share resources, and even ask each other questions.

A creative project for either English or social studies that combines modern social media communication with classic characters from novels or infamous historical figures, is creating mock accounts for the people in question and having students communicate with each other as their character or figure would.

Using Twitter to Communicate with Students

I was observing a classroom educational appsin Annandale, Virginia a few months ago, and I thought it was odd that when I walked in the teacher’s Twitter was in big letters on the white board. Below it was a hash tag for each class he taught. I was used to my teachers and professors giving me their email, but I had never seen a twitter name and/or a hash tag as a means of communication with a teacher. I thought maybe the class was doing some type of project.

What he later explained to me was that it was a way for the students to communicate with him and him to communicate with the students. All students were required to follow him and their parents were encouraged to do the same. He didn’t follow any of them back. He would post reminders about assignments, quizzes, and tests and post repeatedly about any important information such as snow days or field trips. He said that it was the easiest and most universal way to spread the information. It also allowed students to contact him if they had a quick question limited to Twitter’s 140 character limit.

Once he became familiarized with Twitter he began having the students post information with the hashtags he had created for each class. For example, the students were required to bring in a weekly article on the topic they were covering. Rather than printing it out, the student would tweet the link and add the class hash tag for others to review.

Using Skype for Studying and Tutoring

Skype allows for face-to-face conversation regardless of location. Studies have shown that students are able to study on Skype either with their peers or with a tutor, just as effectively as in person. With features such as the shared screen and chat to send links and documents, Skype allows students to study with others no matter where they are.

It’s easy to be hesitant of technology in the classroom. It almost seems too good to be true. But regardless of your feelings toward social media, one thing remains true: it isn’t going anywhere. With Fairfax County implementing a Bring Your Own Device program and private schools throughout Virginia, DC and Maryland hosting 1:1 laptop programs, technology is becoming an important part of our classroom. What you will find, as the picture below suggests (influenced by Bloom’s Taxonomy) is that in education – there really is an app for everything.