Should Educators Use Social Media in the Classroom?

This document was created as a final project for a class I was taking during my studies toward my Master of Education degree.

Social media is used to communicate thoughts, opinions, photographs, videos, location and life status’ in a community. (Merriam Webster) A person creates an account which contains a user name, date of birth, current zip code or city they live in, life preferences as in music, products, movies, websites and often a photograph. The account is attached to a valid e-mail address. These accounts offer opportunity for private messaging by adjusting privacy settings. These posts or messages are not accessible by others in the community only those selected by the author. Otherwise, information that is shared in the community is accessible by members of the community.

When students are in class, they may feel free to share something on the social media site they would not otherwise say in a public setting. If the topic is public and not private, the student has left a “digital tattoo” (Nathan, MacGoyan and Shaffer) that is not easily removed. Facebook, the number one social media site, has approximately 1,310,000,000 users. The average person has 130 friends. (statistic brain) If a member of Facebook posts a comment which is accessible by their 130 friends and 20 of those friends comment or like the post, which adds an additional 2600 potential viewers of the post. That is assuming those 20 who liked the post only have 130 friends and they have their post viewing options set to friends only. Otherwise, the community at large has access to the post.

With the previous example in mind, students and educators should understand the short and long-term ramifications of using social media for class projects. Since employers today use social media to screen applicants and to see what current employees are posting, educational institutions should decide whether or not an instructor should require students to set up and publish to social media accounts. Some schools set up a semi-private sites on the school’s network or by using (Casey) If students are completely aware of the potential negative impact on their current or future employment and reputations, are the students fully sharing and participating in the classes or are they guarded and limited in regards to honest communication? Ravenscroft states, “…not only are social media not designed for learning and education but the commercial model behind popular social media actually prohibits learning because they fundamentally promote conviviality and deliberately exclude ‘fostering the capacity for debate and disagreement.” Debate and disagreement are considered fundamental to learning according to the social constructivist approach. Faculty are concerned with privacy, 70%  and integrity, 80% and see these as important or very important.

As of May 2014, 15 states had enacted legislature preventing current or potential employers from asking for social media passwords or requiring employees to “friend” them. (Dames) The employers states they are ensuring current employees are not passing on trade secrets or other proprietary information.  Some states have similar legislation to protect students in public colleges and universities from having to grant access to their social networking accounts. (National Conference of State Legislatures) However, if the class requires using or creating a blog, Twitter or LinkedIn accounts to complete assignments, do students have the option to decline and still successfully complete the course? Nathan, MacGougan and Shaffer explored the top 15 ISchools’ policies governing social media usage. They found that only two of the schools addressed social media in policy. That policy was focused on the schools’ branding and usage of its logo. They discussed institutions not creating policy protecting students, the schools or the instructors before incorporating social media into the classroom. The other aspect considered by Nathan et al is, when a profile is created, the students have to agree to the terms or service of that of the application. These terms may conflict with current legislature concerning student privacy.

Some of the benefits of using social media include, achieving the objectives of Bloom’s taxonomy. “Using social media, students learn various ways of facilitating, remembering, understanding, analyzing, applying, evaluating and creating.” (Cao, Ajjan and Hong) According to their research, students are more engaged and experience better learning outcomes and satisfaction when social media is used. Elavsky, Mislan, and Elavsky conducted research on students attending large lecture style courses. According to that study, it is easier for students to pretend to take notes on their laptops or handheld devices when they are actually accessing e-mail or social media applications. They incorporated using Twitter into class assignments to increase student engagement both in and out of the classroom. They created a # hashtag and a key word for students to respond to during the lecture. They were also able to see classmates’ responses. Another study that used Twitter in a microeconomics class found the students learned how to write short concise statements explaining concepts in 140 words or less. This allowed teachers required teachers to spend less time evaluating longer papers.  Social media also allows students to comment and interact with other student and instructors from anywhere in the world. (Uhl) Interacting with others students fosters communication and engagement. Instructors are able to save money on travel expenses yet students reap get the benefit of a person’s expertise. The guest lecture has the ability to Skype in as opposed to flying in.

Social media is used at a higher rate by educators in the humanities and arts fields as well as applied and social science. (Cao, Ajjan and Hong) Now, business communication instructors are incorporating social medial into their course curricula to keep up with the business needs in the workplace. (Gaytan) Additional benefits of using social media in the classroom are having students who are prepared to take on the new business model that is changing with the new technology. The market place is now global instead of local. Using forms of social media assist in reaching those customers and business partners.

Should educators use social media in the classroom? Incorporating social media into the curricula is not necessarily an easy or quick process. Schools need to have policies in place that list guidelines. Those guidelines should include protecting the students’ privacy, providing an option to opt out for students who do not wish to created online profiles or share current profiles. The policy should outline how the posts or messages will be saved and stored and whether or not they will be used or published at a later date. After the policy is in place, it is imperative that staff is provided professional development, guidance and assistance in integrating social media. When the instructor is comfortable using the application they enhance the students’ experience. (Abe and Jordan)

ReferencesAbe, P., & Jordan, N. (3013). Integrating Social Media Into the Classroom Curriculum. About Campus, 18(1), 16-20.Cao, Y., Ajjan, H., & Hong, P. (2013). Using social media applications for educational outcomes in college teaching: A structural equation analysis. British Journal Of Educational Technology, 44(4), 581-593. doi:10.1111/bjet.12066

Dame, J. (2014, January 10). Will employers still ask for Facebook passwords in 2014? Retrieved from ttp://

EBizMBA Guide. (2014, July). Top 15 Most Popular Social Networking Sites | July 2014. Retrieved from

Facebook Statistics | Statistic Brain. (2014, July 1). Retrieved from

Gaytan, J. (2013). Integrating Social Media into the Learning Environment of the Classroom: Following Social Constructivism Principles. Journal of Applied Research for Business Instruction, 11(1). Retrieved from

Hendricks, D. (2013, May 8). The Complete History of Social Media: Then And Now. Retrieved May 27, 2014, from

Loizzo, J., & Ertmer, P. (2014). 10 Tips for Implementing Social Media in the Classroom. Learning & Leading With Technology, 41(6), 32-35.

Merriam Webster. (n.d.). Social media – Definition and More from the Free Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Retrieved from

Moran, M., Seaman, J., & Tinti-Kane, H. (2011). Teaching, learning, and sharing: How today’s higher education faculty use social media. Pearson Learning Solutions and Babson Survey Research Group. Retrieved from

Nathan, L., MacGougan, A., & Shaffer, E. (2014). If Not Us, Who? Social Media Policy and the iSchool Classroom. Journal Of Education For Library & Information Science, 55(2), 112-132.

National Conference of State Legislatures. (2014, May 30). Employer Access to Social Media Passwords Legislation. Retrieved from

Ravenscroft, A. G. (2012). Designing and evaluating social media for learning: shaping social networking into social learning?. Journal Of Computer Assisted Learning, 28(3), 177-182

Sanburn, J. (2013, May 9). Millennials: The Next Greatest Generation? | Retrieved from

Uhl, A. (2013, October 28). Twitter in the classroom.pdf. Retrieved from


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