Tear Down the Garden Walls: Bring Social Media into the Classroom

To access my VoiceThread presentantion click this link (transcript and resources provided):



Filled with misinformation, sexual predators, and explicitly inappropriate content the Internet can be a dangerous place for children.  The fear that many educational entities have for allowing students free-range of this powerful but unpredictable tool is understandable.  However, the idea that that educational institutions can somehow create safe little walled-gardens of Internet access for their students through a controlled and, quite frankly, censored form of the Internet is both socially and educationally irresponsible. 

In today’s modern world, social interconnectivity through virtual technology is the standard.  In December of 2012 Topsfield reported that “one billion people use Facebook” and that “if Facebook was a country, it would be the third-largest in the world.”  Picardo (2010) suggests that “social networking online has rapidly become the principal means of communication for the current generation of teenagers.”  Teaching practices should “reflect these social changes and conform to the needs and expectations of today’s students” (Picardo 2010) instead of blocking access to the Internet and insisting on maintaining past practices of teaching and assessment of students that do not take into account the changing nature of the students themselves. 

It would be more responsible of educational institutions to incorporate social media tools such as Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest into classroom activities and teach students how to utilize these tools for educational purposes and utilize them responsibly than for schools and teachers to ignore them.  With sufficient guidelines and monitoring, “social media can become a valuable and interactive teaching tool” (Osborne 2012) that can be used to “encourage communication and inquisitiveness among students, with the overarching objective of enhancing teaching and learning by improving both teacher-student and student-student communication” (Picardo 2010).

The use of social media does not have to be restrained to a local use within and among the students of one classroom.  The Internet can and should be used to provide students with access to global resources and interactions. Cofino (2009) suggests that “adding a global component is not only possible, but necessary to prepare students for our increasingly connected world.” 

A variety of resources are available online for creating global projects in the classroom:

-ePals is a great resource to help students connect to other students around the world.  It is completely secure with internally monitored e-mail accounts!

-Facebook Groups can be developed to link students with other people interested in similar topics you are discussing in class.  Teachers can create the groups and selectively invite users from global networks or other classrooms to participate or share in discussions and posts.

-Flat Classrooms is a global network used to connect middle and high school classrooms.  This teaching project encourages global collaboration and helps create students who are competitive and globally-minded. 

A commitment by educators to teaching 21st century skills including social media responsibility and global connectivity will ensure a more well-rounded student who can function within the the wall-less plain that is the World Wide Web.  Rather than limiting access to the web, schools should be seeking out Web 2.0 tools to aide them in the classroom.




Cofino, K. (2009, October 4). How To Connect Your Students Globally | always learning [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://kimcofino.com/blog/2009/10/04/how-to-connect-your-students-globally/

Osborne, C. (2012, April 2). Ways to use Facebook effectively in class | ZDNet. ZDNet | Technology News, Analysis, Comments and Product Reviews for IT Professionals. Retrieved March 13, 2013, from http://www.zdnet.com/blog/igeneration/ways-to-use-facebook-effectively-in-class/15269

Picardo, J. (2010, February 16). Technology and Education | Box of Tricks. Box of Tricks – Technology and Education. Retrieved March 13, 2013, from http://www.boxoftricks.net/2010/02/microblogging-making-the-case-for-social-networking-in-education

Topsfield, J. (2012, December 1). T is for teaching. The Age – Business, World & Breaking News | Melbourne, Australia. Retrieved March 13, 2013, from http://www.theage.com.au/national/t-is-for-teaching-20121130-2amd9.html


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