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Do We Really Wanna Take a Selfie: Social Media Use in the Classroom

By Elijah Mercer, CEI Education Policy and Communications Intern

Snap a selfie’… on Instagram then create a self-portrait and repost it.

Create a Facebook page’…to promote the upcoming novel your class is reading to the school.

Make a list’…of all your favorite news sites you like to visit and pin them on Pinterest.

Write two to three paragraphs’…on a Word Press blog about what you learned in class for the semester.

Create a photo album’…of a science experience you conducted and post the steps of the scientific method on Tumblr.

Track metrics’…on Klout to see what conversations on social media are occurring about education policies affecting standards in a small city.

Develop a survey’…using Survey Monkey to engage students’ interests and satisfaction with how they felt about your lesson plan.

Grab a post-it’…and use it as a ‘tweet‘ for an exit ticket.

Can 140 characters really make the difference in an engaging lesson? #LetsThinkThisThrough

According to a recent survey by the by the University of Phoenix College of Education, 47% of 1000 K-12 teachers believe social media platforms can greatly increase student learning and achievement. However, only 1 in 5 teachers actually use social media as an instructional practice (Bidwell, 2014).

Many have found it difficult to strike the balance between personal and instructional use. In fact, a U.S News Report found that 80% of teachers surveyed have this difficulty. This practice has caused some controversy recently. A special educator in California was put on administrative leave after calling a parent ‘crazy’ and referring to an autistic student as a ‘hot mess’ on Facebook, reported the San Jose Mercury News. Others have been reprimanded or even fired for tweeting inappropriate pictures, or for students posting fight videos that occurred in the classroom via YouTube.

Lack of Training. Some of these teachers point to the lack of training with using social media for professional, personal, and instructional practices as the reason for this disconnect. Instead, they tend to lean on using YouTube, podcasts, and other types of technology. These reservations suggest an immediate need for professional development, training, and workshops to help teachers navigate social media effectively and responsibly.

Other teachers are still making ground nonetheless by simply educating themselves and staying up to date with the latest technology trends. Broadcast Technology, Film and Multimedia teacher Don Goble has had great success with his students at Ladue Watkins High School in St. Louis, Missouri. With the permission and support of parents, the principal, and school administration, students research, collaborate, create and publish online content autonomously. One of Goble’s quietest students received comments on her published work from someone all the way in Australia.

‘Social media has become one of the greatest educational tools of all time, and yet, it goes untaught. Why? Fear of the unknown? Lack of value? The time is now for education to instead embrace this form of learning and begin, even in small ways, embedding social media lessons in all classrooms,’ affirms Goble.

Faux Platforms. Edutopia writer Vicki Davis agrees and suggests there are even ways for students to practice their social media skills on faux platforms. Fake Facebook or Faketweet allow students to work on their social media writing skills before posting real content. Davis provides experiences and numerous successes of stories from teachers’ social media efforts below:

If teachers truly want to close the digital divide, the first step is to educate themselves on social media trends to help make content current, lively, and culturally responsive. When students see teachers trying to engage them by tapping into their personal interests, students instantly become invested in the learning process. Additionally, the use of social media in the classroom has the potential to shift accountability from the teacher to the student and allow the student to act as an ‘expert.’ #ThatsReal

CEI editorial note: Principals, consider sharing this blog with your teachers.


Bidwell, A. (2014, January 17). Check out that selfie: How to use social media in the classroom. Retrieved, 2014 from:

Davis, V. (2014, February 27). A guidebook for social media in the classroom. Retrieved, 2014 from

Leicht, G., Goble, D. (2014, October 1). Should teachers be using social media in the classroom? Retrieved, 2014 from


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