Social media in school: Why it doesn’t have to be a nuisance

Snapchat may make some educators cringe, but the platform can be an ideal way to teach students coding and creativity.

Instead of trying to shield students from social media in schools, district leaders should leverage the technology to drive engagement in STEAM, career prep and other high-priority subjects.

Take Snapchat—while it may make some educators cringe, developing tools for the platform can be a great way to teach students the coding and creativity skills required for digital marketing—which is a major growth industry, says Tasha Penwell, the founder of Ohio-based Bytes and Bits and a computer science coach.

“Snapchat is one of the most popular social media platforms and it has a diverse age range,” says Penwell, who will give the presentation, “Snap Into It: Bring Snapchat to the Classroom,” at the 2023 Future of Education Technology® Conference in New Orleans in January. “In today’s world of distractions, with most of them being related to social media platforms, instead of fighting that distraction we can take the opportunity to help students learn how Snapchat was built and how it can be used in different careers.”

More from DA: Coding can be pretty personal. You should teach it like an art form 

Students can use Snapchat’s Lens Studio to create new augmented reality experiences (also known as filters) for the social network. These filters can change a user’s appearance and background or play music, all of which can be applied to digital marketing. And as students dig into digital marketing, they can develop a diverse set of skills in SEO, website development, research, data analysis, copywriting, social media management, graphic design, multimedia content creation, automation and programming, Penwell says.

Once the student publishes an augmented reality filter, Snapchat provides data on how many times it has been viewed, shared and favorited. “To receive feedback such as this can enhance and continue to encourage the learning and exploration of this field and take those skills into their career paths,” she adds.

FETC 2023

The Future of Education Technology® Conference takes place live and in-person Jan. 23-26, 2023, in New Orleans. Register now!

Sticking with social media in school

There are several more presentations on the FETC agenda that will guide educators in using social media in school to engage students:

  • Creating Your EDU Social Media Brand from Scratch: Learn to share your education story through your EDU Social Media Brand. Participants will learn how to create an online presence that amplifies their voice and mission as an educator, administrator or school. Multiple presenters. 
  • Digital Citizenship & Social Emotional Learning: An Imperative Integration: The public exposure experienced by students was previously known only to celebrities. The integration of social-emotional learning skills helps students navigate online connections and develop healthy relationships, protect their digital identity through self-awareness, and safely express their values and identity through digital platforms. Presenters and attendees will discuss the research around social media, the practical application of social-emotional learning, and practical examples of guiding students to develop agency in their community. Presenters: Claire Handville, director of school counseling, and Billy Watts, instructional technology coach, at Charles J. Colgan Sr. High School in Prince William County, Virginia.
  • Cyber-Challenges—Protecting Today’s Youth: So many students face a variety of cyber-challenges, and many teachers do not know what to do when faced with the challenges shared by students. Students who have grown up “online” do not necessarily know where to draw the boundary between public and private, which has opened up opportunities for others to cyberbully, cyberstalk and commit other cyber-crimes. Social media sites also make it difficult to track who the bully is—and whether it really is that person behind the picture in the profile. Attendees will learn tips for speaking with students of all ages, tools to implement safe social media practices and educate parents about cyberbullying. Presenter: Michelle Cheasty-Christ, instructor, Liberty High School (West Virginia).
  • Social Media 101: Plan, Create, and Schedule Content: This workshop is a social media crash course designed to help educators understand how each Twitter, Instagram and TikTok work and how the networks can benefit the library and media center programs. Presenter: Lauren Mobley, library media specialist, North Clayton Middle School (Georgia).
  • Social-Media-Inspired Project Ideas For Any Subject: Can our favorite social media platforms act as inspiration for student creations? The popular ways creators share content on social media can inspire student projects. Students can create graphics, write captions, and record videos in all subject areas. Presenter: Monica Burns, edtech consultant, Class Tech Tips, LLC.
Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick is a life-long journalist. Prior to writing for District Administration he worked in daily news all over the country, from the NYC suburbs to the Rocky Mountains, Silicon Valley and the U.S. Virgin Islands. He's also in a band.

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