Social media in education

Started in April 2019, this is a co-created resource page started by University of Colorado Denver graduate students studying the use of social networking and social media in education.

We have been exploring the use of various social networking and media tools, technologies, and platforms to support educational endeavors -- in both formal (i.e., classroom, training) and informal (i.e., just-in time, on-the-job/in-the-world) settings. Below is an alphabetical list of several popular platforms, with brief descriptions and links to resources. As the landscape continues to change, this listing will adjust and new platforms and resources will be added. This page is meant to be a reference for those interested in the educational uses of social networking and media. For questions or comments, please contact Dr. Joanna Dunlap via

General Topics edit

Classroom discussions edit

According to educators such as those represented within CU-Portland's Room 241 blog, social media can play an important role in encouraging class discussions. Whether students are asked to post in Twitter, Padlet, a Facebook group, or another social media platform, the common denominator is that the classroom is employing a shared, easily accessible, and often more flexible (than an LMS) space where students can post questions and brainstorm ideas. The particular application of social media can be as flexible as the tool; a teacher can ask for student input before, during, or after a class activity to facilitate discussions in different ways and for different purposes. For instance, one Edutopia blog suggests that social media can be a powerful tool for differentiating instruction, which can apply to discussion activities and trajectories, as well. If a teacher recognizes through a pre-class social media activity that interests in the upcoming topic are aligning within distinct categories or that there are patterns of student confusion, this will allow the teacher to adjust in-class discussion activities and/or groupings, supportive learning materials or activities, or other elements of the classroom experience. In this way, social media can serve as either a JITT (just in time teaching) or eCAT (electronic classroom assessment technique) strategy to support more impacting learning.

Process edit

Before using social networking and media platforms with K-12 students, please review district, state, and federal regulations to ensure that students' personally identifying information (PII) is protected. The following resources provide more information about data collection, as well as current laws regarding PII:

Using Social Media to Support Self-Regulated Learning edit

N. Dabbagh and A. Kitsantas [1] argue that social media can be used to develop students' Personal Learning Environments (PLEs) to collect information, generate shared knowledge, and encourage future, self-regulated learning. They suggest utilizing a three-level framework to scaffold student self-regulated learning using social media.

  • Level 1: Personal information management. Instructors encourage students to use social media (such as blogs and wikis) to practice organizing information and planning future learning.
  • Level 2: Social interaction and collaboration. Instructors guide students to engage in basic sharing and collaboration using social media. This action-based behavior encourages self-monitoring and helps students identify strategies and actions for personal learning.
  • Level 3: Information aggregation and management. Instructors encourage students synthesize and aggregate social media information to reflect on their overall learning, and customize it around their personal goals.

Three examples of what this might look like in practice:

  Level 1: Personal information management Level 2: Social interaction and collaboration Level 3: Information aggregation and management
Blogs Instructor encourages students to use a blog as a journal to set learning goals and plan for course assignments and tasks. Instructor encourages students to use the blog comment feature for instructor and peer feedback, enabling basic interaction and sharing. Instructor demonstrates how to configure a blog to pull in additional content, such as adding the blog to RSS aggregation services.
Wikis Instructor encourages students to use a wiki as a personal space for content organization and management Instructor encourages students to enable the wiki's collaborative editing and commenting features for feedback. Instructor demonstrates how to view a wiki's history to promote student self-evaluation of their learning across time.
Social bookmarking Instructor encourages students to use a social bookmarking tool (e.g., Delicious) to organize course content. Instructor encourages students to collaborate with other classmates and create a shared list of bookmarks related to a specific learning topic or project. Instructor asks students to self-reflect on their personal and group bookmarks to enhance the desired learning outcomes.

(Dabbagh & Kitsantas, 2012, p. 7.)

Social Networking and Media Platforms edit

Discord edit

Discord Website

  1. Discord is a cross-platform voice and text chat application designed specifically for gamers, but has uses in education as well.
  2. This tutorial explains how to use discord for class content.
  3. In using discord, student can ask teachers questions in a discussion format. In the same vain they can ask questions of other students.

Facebook edit

Facebook Website

  1. Facebook can be used by teachers to share class updates, such as field trips, assignments, permission slips and student/student project photos, to name a few. There are countless ideas on how to use Facebook in the classroom. Here we share some:
  2. Facebook features the option to create "secret" or closed groups that requires one or more people to moderate, or host.
    1. An example of a professional group is this one - Principals Life -
  3. Groups come in different types. The social learning group allows the administrator to categorize content into units. Also featured is a function that alerts the moderator of the group that the "unit" has been interacted with. This article, "How to Use Facebook Group Units to Organize Your Content", shows the steps to create and customize learning units in a Facebook Group.

Flickr edit

Flickr Website

  1. Photo sharing in the classroom, lesson resources, documenting project progress and storytelling are a handful of ways to utilize Flickr in the classroom. Although, this sounds similar to Instagram in the classroom.
  2. Users can create a login to be able to join groups and participate in discussions. Most of the discussions seem to be dormant in the current education-related groups, but some may provide interesting browsing of older ones. Groups provide a convenient selection of photos related to a particular topic, without the need to search by hashtags that may have more broad uses.
  3. Emphasis seems to be more about the photos than the social aspects that drive Instagram. Although comments and "faves" are still available, they are not as intensively used. Photos are arranged in galleries with minimal captions, but when a user clicks on a photo, they are taken to another page exclusively for that photo, where the person that submitted it may have shared varying levels of background information about the image.
  4. Unlike Instagram, Flickr provides easy download options for photos on the site. Users should be aware of and honor copyright restrictions, but many users are generous and license their work under various creative commons licenses, which are easily used as search parameters.

Flipgrid edit

Flipgrid Website

  1. Flipgrid is an interactive tool that supports classroom communities in elementary through adult learning. Flipgrid provides a visual way for students to asynchronously introduce themselves, share feedback, collaborate, and communicate. Check out this free integration guide from the Flipgrid website to learn more!

Instagram edit

Instagram Website

  1. Depending on your school's policy on student photos, I've seen several teachers use Instagram to post activities and pictures of their students. Using #hashtags as a way to promote the focal point of your picture is also a great way to integrate it into the classroom. You can even create a hashtag that's personal to your students, families, and classroom.
  2. It is advisable to create separate accounts for professional and personal purposes to protect yourself when using Instagram for educative purposes.
  3. Instagram is a powerful tool for telling a school's story. The power of this tool is that teenagers congregate here and it is a great way to share your message with your students.

Padlet edit

Padlet Website

  1. Padlet can be used as discussion assignments; "get to know you" activities with students; or a multitude of other ways. Integrating Padlet into your classroom is a great way to integrate technology into the classroom. Here is an article on 30 creative ways to use Padlet within your classroom.
  2. Padlet can be used as a virtual collaboration site for sharing ideas. This video shows how to use Padlet to promote student collaboration.
  3. Padlet is a great place to showcase projects including multimedia using tools like Animoto. Creating multimedia projects is a fun way for students to learn to become creators and increase digital media literacy.
  4. Padlets can also be set for varying levels of privacy, from entirely private to be viewed only by the account owner, to entirely public and indexed on search engines, with options in between, such as password protection.

Pinterest edit

Pinterest Website

  1. Pinterest is an online version of a bulletin board or an idea board. In education, it's a great way for students to collaborate on ideas, inspiration, and research. Pinterest can also be used to display a collection of students’ projects. Additionally, the platform can be used to curate resources for a specific topic for the purpose of sharing with a learning audience. This blog post lists 14 great ways students can use Pinterest in the classroom.
  2. Pinterest is a unique social platform that is a mix of networking and a search engine. This website can be used to organize ideas and find creative solutions or lesson plans. See more at New tools for collaborating on Pinterest
  3. Mizelle & Schwartz Beck suggest that Pinterest is a good platform for practicing “The seven principles of good practice in undergraduate education” because it: (1) encourages contact between students and faculty, (2) develops reciprocity and cooperation among students, (3) encourages active learning, (4) gives prompt feedback, (5) emphasizes time on task, (6) communicates high expectations, and (7) respects diverse talents and ways of learning.[2]

Quizlet edit

Quizlet Website

  1. Quizlet can be used by teachers and learners to learn and review content. There are different applications to suit the needs of different learners such as the "learn" and "spell" applications. Additionally, there are games to increase engagement when reviewing content which have great classroom applications such as "quizlet live". Users are also able to create and share their own study cards as well as accessing other user's cards.
  2. Quizlet Live allows the students to compete against each other and also correct their notes in the process. Quizlet Live is a great review before a test.
  3. Quizlet Live also has a team setting where students must work collaboratively and compete against other teams while practicing their content material. This mode also build communication and collaboration skills.

Quora edit

Quora Website

  1. Quora is a question-and-answer website. Users ask questions, and the Quora community answers, edits, and organizes the responses. Fractus Learning states that Quora is "a place to ask, a place to answer, a place to learn, and a place to learn," making it a valuable educational tool.

Reddit edit

Reddit Website

  1. Although most teachers recommended not using Reddit in a classroom setting, it could be used for sharing ideas on a specific subreddit. Students might misuse Reddit however, and thus, expectations and guidelines must be set in advance.
  2. Others take a different view, Jordan Bates discusses how the real power of Reddit is in its customization and ability to connect you to like-minded individuals. He does warn that "When a non-registered person visits Reddit, they see only content from a core group of the most popular subreddits... This system leads to the majority of Reddit users never (or rarely) straying from the core group of subreddits." In order to receive the most out of your Reddit experience, Bates recommends unsubscribing from all of the core groups you start with and building your own list of at least 15+ subreddits that are relevant to your interests. The content in focused subreddits is far more moderated by the community which follow it than the core subreddits, so the content and discussions are better. You can use these focused subreddits for a variety of resources in your class, from relevant news on class topics, to project ideas, to class discussion boards.
  3. Reddit can also be a great resource for teachers to use to connect with other professionals. In Reddit: A Resource for Teacher, Lisa Howell lists her top subreddit communities for education. "The various teachers forums on Reddit are a great way to crowd-source for advice from other teaching professionals, get lesson plan ideas, find valuable resources to make school fun, and to just vent about the less enjoyable aspects of the job."
  4. Educational institutions can also leverage social media like Reddit to compile feedback regarding all aspects of campus life. In "Reddit Is More Influential in Higher Ed Than You Think", Stephen App advocating using Reddit as a resource for college administrators. If students report consistent observations regarding safety, social climate, academic support or anything else, schools can adjust strategies or policies as appropriate. The anonymous and peer-to-peer aspects of Reddit posts lend themselves to authenticity and relevance.

Remind edit

Remind Website

  1. A simple to use two way communication tool for administrator and teachers to communicate with one another or their community. The most popular use of remind is teacher to their students and families.
  2. Promotes engagement with the community by allow teachers to send text messages, pictures, links, etc. to their community members.
  3. Remind is completely anonymous. The teacher does not know the cell numbers of their students or community members and the students do not know the cell number of their teachers.
  4. Integrates well with the Google Suite, including access to contents on Google Drive.
  5. Integrates well with Quizlet, Canvas and Microsoft OneDrive.

Skype edit

Skype Website

  1. Skype is a communication tool that connects people who wish to meet "face to face" on the web. It is a time-effective way to communicate through the internet with a personal touch. This would help engage students and pull them out of the impersonal text forms of communication i.e. email, text messaging.
  2. Skype represents an opportunity to expand learning situations. Teachers and students can interact using text, voice, and video. See this article for more.
  3. Students are using Mystery Skype to guess where other students are located. This is a fun way to learn about other cultures. Read more about Mystery Skype opportunities at Mystery Skype.

Slack edit

Slack Website

  1. The app Slack allows users to organize communications by group discussions and keeps the content of messages private.
  2. Slack is "the new email." It can be used in education as a project management and collaboration tool, utilizing channels that are public to all members of the Workspace or private to individuals within the channel.
  3. Read this article on Slack and teaching.
  4. The most extensive and current guide to what Slack is and how to use it:
  5. Using channels for specific topics, Slack can be used for online seminars and other courses. This article discusses how.
  6. As with many messaging media, alert fatigue is a risk. This helpful article by Alexandra Hayes will help users maintain the efficiency and relevance of a Slack group: "Your Slack Messages Are Probably Stressing Out Your Co-workers"

Twitter edit

Twitter Website

  1. Something that has been increasingly popular are Twitter chats between a classroom and a children's book author. These Twitter chats can be live tweet chats or take place over a few days. I have seen both of these formats used. The Twitter Chat schedule can be found here:
  2. Twitter offers the opportunity to discover other perspectives on a specific topic. It is a great way to discover new information by just searching for a hashtag. Also, it’s an easy way to connect with people and find thought leaders that have common interests. This blog post explores 20 interesting ways to use Twitter in the classroom.
  3. In addition to guiding research efforts, Twitter can be used as a back channel for communication during class, such as a way to compile student questions during a lecture or group activities. This blog from Concordia University Portland discusses how Twitter and other social media platforms can be used to spark discussion. Also, this video from Edutopia shows how teachers are using Twitter to connect, share ideas, and build communities beyond the classroom four walls.
  4. Twitter can increase communication between teachers, students and parents for announcements, changes, contests and collaboration. This article, "15 Ways To Use Twitter In Education (For Students And Teachers Alike)" gives ideas for using Twitter as a communication tool for education.

Wordpress edit

Wordpress Website

  1. Using Wordpress in the classroom has several benefits. Community building in the classroom is one reason many teachers use blogging in their classrooms. Students often feel more safe communicating in writing online than orally in front of their peers. It also is a great way to set up a unique class website where students can find resources throughout the school year. According to John Landrum, content writer for "Edubirdie", Blogs can also be used as a way for students to work together on one project. To learn more ways that you can use Wordpress in your classroom, check out this blog by John Landrum.

YouTube edit

YouTube Website

  1. Online learning is a large contribution of YouTube in education with on-demand videos, tutorials and lectures at your fingertips. YouTube videos can be used to help classroom learners, to redirect students for additional resources or to expand knowledge on a subject for students. As well as showcase other ways of learning.
YouTube is also a platform for learners to share their own video creations and engage with other people about it in community forums. YouTube Academy features modules on creating your own channel and how to facilitate engaging discussions using the community forum.
  1. The use of YouTube in education is growing each year. Teachers are able to show concepts from a new perspective and take their classes to far destinations, without leaving school. See more in The Potential of YouTube for Teaching and Learning in the Performing Arts
  2. YouTube can also be used for employee training, but it is best if it is part of a larger training plan. As described in this article, it provides the "Explain" and "Demonstrate," but not the "Practice with Feedback" and "Assessment" elements of effective training. See Should I Use YouTube for Employee Training?
  3. Curation/vetting: At least one study has demonstrated a need for instructors to perform quality control by guiding learners to the most useful videos on Youtube. See "Can “YouTube” help students in learning surface anatomy?" This conclusion could be extrapolated to indicate that any open platform could include inaccurate or irrelevant material.
  4. Youtube can also be used for educators to help supplement curriculum through videos simply by searching by topic and grade level. Two examples are Math Antics and Khan Academy for math support. Students can access addition instruction for specific math skills even when they are not at school.

LinkedIn edit

LinkedIn Website

  1. LinkedIn Learning can help students earn badges through online lessons. This helps them get an edge during their current job or to help in getting their first or next job.
  2. 5 Steps to Use LinkedIn For Social Working is a blog post by Christopher Pappas that outlines some strategies in using LinkedIn with students.
  3. How Linked in Works for Education is an article is geared towards answering the question, "Why Use LinkedIn?" It is written for educators.
  4. Three Ways to Use LinkedIn as an Educator This blog by Tami Strang talks about joining a group that helps to meet professional goals through LinkedIn.
  5. This is a LinkedIn site that is written towards students who are preparing to graduate and enter into the workforce. This is helpful for new teachers.
  6. LinkedIn is a way to stay in contact with employers and employees in a professional matter. Where Facebook is home to personal beliefs and drama, LinkedIn supplies that connectivity of Facebook, without the drama.
  7. LinkedIn Learning provides a way for employees to keep their job-related skills and soft skills up-to-date with life-long learning. Learn more in this Forbes interview with LinkedIn's VP of Learning Content.
  8. The American Library Association raises concerns about library patrons having to create a public LinkedIn account to continue accessing Learning for free through the limited fund's libraries use to give them access.

Zoom edit

Zoom Website

  1. Zoom is a tool that many online learning institutions use to deliver content.
  2. Here is an article related to learning with Zoom -
  3. Zoom is a great tool that enables students and professors to link in real-time in a face-to-face environment without having to physically go anywhere. This is especially helpful for out-of-state students to still get an in-classroom environment and is a very equitable advance to online courses.

Google Classroom edit

Google Classroom Website

  1. According to this article from Teach Thought, Google Classroom provides educators the ability to design and build projects that incorporate interactivity among students, students and parents, other classes, and other schools in town, in the state, across the country, or around the world. The article author claims "Google Classroom is quietly becoming the most powerful tool in education technology."
  1. Dabbagh, N., & Kitsantas, A. (2012). Personal Learning Environments, social media, and self-regulated learning: A natural formula for connecting formal and informal learning. Internet and Higher Education 15, pp. 3-8. doi: 10.1016/j.iheduc.2011.06.002
  2. Mizelle, E., & Schwartz Beck, M. (2018). Engaging Millennials: Best practice for Using Pinterest. Teaching and Learning in Nursing 13, pp. 58-62. doi: 10.1016/j.teln.2017.09.006