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The benefits of using social media in the classroom

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Social media, when used responsibly, can give students control of their learning.

Hesitation on administrators’ part is often cited as a top barrier to incorporating more social media tools in classrooms. But with a carefully crafted social media policy, educators and administrators can learn to use social media tools effectively with students.

Advocates of social media in the classroom say that, when used properly, social media tools can boost student engagement, link students to content experts and real-world examples of classroom lessons, and help them establish an online body of work.

“I think we need to rethink the way we’re doing education,” said Patrick Larkin, assistant superintendent for learning for Burlington Public Schools in Massachusetts. (For more on the district’s technology efforts, read about eSN’s 10th annual Tech-Savvy Superintendent Awards. Burlington Superintendent Eric Conti was one of the 10 winners.)

Larkin said that social media tools can help students develop proficiency with technology; learn to create, critique, analyze, and evaluate multimedia text; and manage, analyze, and synthesize multiple streams of information.

School leaders “have to get teachers comfortable with it first, before students will learn how to do it responsibly and effectively,” Larkin cautioned, adding that educators often have to learn and develop comfort levels with social media policy and new concepts associated with social media tools.

(Next page: Successful policies for using social media in the classroom)

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