Using online social networks in teaching

Activity 6: Using online social networks in teaching and/or professional development

What are some key features of social media that are beneficial for teaching and learning?

One of the significant changes within the teaching profession is the ability to communicate and collaborate with not only our students but anyone from anywhere. Over the last few years, communication options have exploded to offer a wide variety of digital communication. The table below lists some of the media sites we are already using within our school.


Facebook Registered users can create a personal profile, add other users as friends, and exchange messages and photos. Includes automatic notifications when users update their profile.
Google Plus Real-life sharing though the web including messages, video conferencing and photographs.
YouTube A video-sharing website. Twitter A micro-blogging platform where users send 140 character messages to each other.
LinkedIn A social network for business-related and professional networking.
WordPress An open-source blogging platform.
Edmodo Helps you create a social, digital classroom. On Edmodo, you can vote, post assignments, create a class assignments calendar, and upload photos and messages to students.

(“Challenges and opportunities for schools and teachers in a digital world,” 2013)

At the moment, staff are using the above sites to enable better collaboration between themselves and students. In doing so, teachers not only encourage students to actively engage with the course material, but they also provide online communication and collaboration between students that might not otherwise exist.

In Food technology the teacher set up a classroom website using Weebly, this is a great resource for our students. Using some of the functions below the teacher is able to share a host of information and resource material:

Programme outline

Class Calendar /Events

Homework Assignments

Pictures / photographic evidence

Post-Student Work

Classroom Rules and Policies

Links to resource material / recipes

Currently, the teacher is finding that the website is more informative than a blog. While a blog or Wiki seems to be more interactive, because they allow students to contribute. Blogs require constant updates. Consequently, he prefers to just have a website that was easy to build and edit.

What are potential challenges that teachers need to be aware of when integrating social networking platforms into teaching activities?

Although we as teachers have the same rights as everyone else to use social networks, it is fraught with danger. Teachers can put their jobs in jeopardy for posting images, using inappropriate language, or expressing their views.  And although teaching using media sites allows us countless opportunities, this online interaction presents its own issues as well during class time. Especially when students are using those devices to check Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat or any one of the hundreds of social platforms that beg for their attention right in the middle of class, along with cyberbullying and distraction.

Having this technology in the classroom is all but impossible to police. Consequently, we are looking at creating a firewall/filter that prevents students from accessing specially blocked sites: Facebook, online casino, etc.

But by doing this are we missing a key ingredient for student engagement? Or is the digital environment offering us some of the greatest learning opportunities that we have ever had?



3 thoughts on “Using online social networks in teaching

  1. Thanks Ros, you have covered the issues well. With regard to what type of social media to use the Food Tech teacher seems to consider the purpose that they are using the online portal for and for their purpose, which is sharing information and resources, they are finding a website is better than a blog. This demonstrates the importance of understanding your purpose and letting this guide you in your choice of platform. Cheers, Jill.


  2. What you pose at the end of your post, I too have something going around in my mind at the moment. Considering our students ‘presence’ when they are engaging in face-to-face learning, and the demands for one’s online ‘presence’…and how they will manage this effectively for themselves. I even see this with my own children (now young adults) when we put down our devices and spend time having actual conversations, through our mouths and not our fingertips (haha).


  3. You raise some good points especially about the potential challenges that teachers need to be aware of. It seems that we are ‘damned if we do’ and ‘damned if we don’t’. Sifting our way through the pitfalls and the benefits is the position that many of us find ourselves in at this time.


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