Social Media for Learning and Connecting: Tips for Educators & Parents

Welcome to Seton Catholic Central in Binghamton, NY. This is a first rate school where I am presenting to the staff on the above topic. Here are my speaker notes with links so you can take advantage of my talk even though you didn’t attend. Like it or not, we swim in a sea of social media and so do the students we teach. While some schools block social media and don’t allow students to bring their own devices to school, others embrace the technology and are busy exploring how it can be used to enhance the learning experience for all. Today we will take a look at what the innovators are upto, and how some students and adults have used social media for negative purposes.

Professional Connections

  • Blogging: If you want some good reasons to blog yourself, start with my summary of Staff Sackstein’s book Blogging for Teachers: Writing for Professional Learning. Also check her blog as a great example of what a teacher can do.
  • Twitter and Twitter Chats: Twitter is a great way of engage in daily professional development and expand your personal learning network (PLN). Try following the #edchat hashtag at noon and 7 pm on Tuesdays.
  • For Twitter chats that match your interests here is the Education Chat Calendar.
  • Email/Blogging/Twitter/Facebook Advice: This is simple. Don’t post or email anything that you wouldn’t want anyone to see. This includes text, pictures, and videos. Also, don’t take pictures or make videos you wouldn’t want posted on the internet. Consider posting this on your classroom wall. If students and educators follow this advice they should stay out of trouble. Many have not. Also, don’t substitute email or text messages for situations that can benefit from face to face conversation.
  • Should you use social media to communicate with students and parents? Many educators do. I suggest that you use school accounts for this purpose.
  • Have you heard of Yik Yak? It’s allows you to make anonymous posts that anyone nearby can read. Check out this New York Times article Who Spewed That Abuse? Anonymous Yik Yak App Isn’t Telling. Are kids using Yik Yak on your campus?

Flipping Your Class/BYOD and 1:1 Programs

  • The idea behind flipping is that students watch direct instruction independently so that more class time can be devoted to individual or group work facilitated by the teacher. See my summary of Flip Your Classroom by Jonathan Bergmann and Arron Sams. You don’t have to flip everything at once, and you don’t have to make your own videos. To be effective, all students need access to your flipped video, which means they probably need their own device. Many schools have started issuing laptops or tablets. When each student has there own device in class, all students can be expected to participate.
  • How Flipped Learning is Growing – This is a pretty cool infographic that shows how flipping is catching on.
  • Blended learning is a formal education program in which a student learns at least in part through delivery of content and instruction via digital and online media with some element of student control over time, place, path, or pace. Learn how Blended Learning Changes the Game. How much blended learning is happening in your school?
  • A popular notion is that students will learn better when they are working on subject matter the are interested in or passionate about. I see it as our job to help students find things that they are interested in. The best way to do that is to introduce them to a lot of things. Here are some sites your can use for that purpose. Free Technology for Teachers offers daily learning resources. lets you create your own daily newspaper. Here is a link to a recent issue or my paper. Digg.Com gives you all sorts of newsworthy and interesting stuff. Some content may a bit on the adult side but nothing graphic.


  • Be sure to tell students that Efforts to Harm Others Tend to be Self-Destructive. This applies to traditional bullying and cyber-bullying. Consider posting this on the wall. Also, cyber bullies are more likely to be caught and punished as they leave a trail to follow. Check this story about famous baseball player Curt Shilling as an example. I think the best way to reduce bullying is to help students understand that the bully may suffer more than the person being bullied.

Digital Footprints for Better or Worse

  • Let’s Google Getting in trouble with social media. This will change from time to time, but it is pretty easy to find students, teachers, administrators, politicians, police, military people, and just about anybody who screwed up using social media. Every student needs to do their own thinking as groupthink often results in stupid moves. The idea of failing and learning from your mistakes is getting a lot of press today in business and education journals. When it comes to making mistakes via social media posts, this is one area where you want to learn from the mistakes of others.
  • Students and teachers should understand that they have a digital footprint and work to make it look good. Start by Googling yourself. Here what happens when you Google Douglas W. Green, EdD and Dr. Doug Green. So far I’m pretty happy with my digital footprint. Schools and other organizations have digital footprints too. Be sure to check out those you are connected to. Also do searches on Youtube.

Don’t do anything you wouldn’t want to show up on YouTube