New Teacher Advocate — KDP New Teacher Advocate Spring 2017
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Social Media
Andria Lorentzen

Social media is everywhere these days. From Facebook ( to YouTube (, students use social media to connect and share information with friends, family, and even strangers. Why not use social media in the classroom to keep things interesting? It can be a powerful tool that can lead to more engagement both inside and outside the classroom (Sim & Pop, 2014), as well as increased student satisfaction (Sylvia, 2014).

Social media can be divided into two categories: mainstream and education-based. Mainstream social media sites, such as Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter (, are free and can be accessed by anyone. Educationbased social media sites, such as Edmodo (, SchoolTube (www.schooltube. com), and Twiducate (, have a similar look and feel to their mainstream counterparts—Edmodo is designed to look like Facebook, for example—but often have more privacy settings and an integrated assessment system. Before getting started, look into district policies and check with your school’s technology or media department to see whether these sites can be accessed. Student safety and privacy come first!

No matter which type of social media you choose, keeping the five M’s in mind will ensure your students engage and learn in a safe environment.

Master the platform. You need to have a complete understanding of the social media platform you are using in the classroom. If you are new to a social media site, take some time to become familiar with its capabilities. Whether you are using mainstream or education-based social media, practice using it before you ask your students to complete tasks. Knowing how a site works will help when it comes to troubleshooting any problems that students may have. For example, if you are familiar with Google Classroom (www.classroom. but unsure how Edmodo works, it is better to choose the platform that you know better.

Model the expectations. Do you want your students to write posts on an Edmodo page, comment on a SchoolTube video, or reply to a question on Twiducate? Model it! Show your students what is expected of them by providing an example yourself. While a teacher should explicitly tell students what type of engagement is appropriate on social media, a good example by the teacher will go a long way in helping students figure out what is expected of them.

Make the experience realistic. Students recognize that social media has practical uses both inside and outside the classroom. Because education-based platforms often mimic mainstream sites, students are still able to utilize the same tools and features. If students see a real use for these platforms, they will be more engaged and motivated in the classroom. Also, keep in mind that your classroom is a great place to teach Internet safety and etiquette.

Motivate through full engagement. The use of technology alone may be enough to engage students (Sylvia, 2014), but it is important to use all the available tools so that students not only stay engaged, but are engaged in a productive and useful way. For example, create a hashtag on Twiducate so that classmates can easily follow discussions. Consider holding “office hours”—a designated time when you will be online every week to engage with students and answer any questions they may have.

Multiply the possibilities. When using social media, you do not have to stick to one language skill or one platform. Consider the types of activities you want to implement, then choose the platform with the best fit. You may want to use SchoolTube for listening practice, but Edmodo for writing Practice. Use different platforms for different tasks, or integrate multiple skills within one platform. The possibilities are endless; it is up to you to decide how to best fit social media to your learning outcomes.

It can be a challenge to decide how and whether social media should be implemented in the classroom. However, with these five M’s in mind, you can use social media to effectively (and safely!) Engage with your students. Integrate mainstream or education-based social media to hold students’ interest—and to lead to a satisfying experience for you and your students.


Sim, M. A., & Pop, A. M. (2014). The impact of social media on vocabulary learning case study—Facebook. Annals of the University of Oradea, Economic Sciences Series, 23(2), 120–130.

Sylvia, J. J., IV. (2014). Using Bloom’s Taxonomy to assess social media assignments. Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies in Education, 3(1), 50–59.

Ms. Lorentzen has worked as an English language instructor in China, Japan, and her home state of California. She is currently a graduate student at the University of San Francisco and teaches English at the Hiroshima YMCA School of Languages.