@students: Mom & Dad now on Facebook, Twitter

If schools use social media to teach their students, then parents could get more involved in their kids' education.

If schools use social media to teach their students, then parents could get more involved in their kids’ education.

We talk a lot about what social media means for kids and teachers, but what about parents? Moms, Dads and guardians already track what their kids are doing on social media in a nosy, “who is our daughter dating?” kind of way. But now they can also use social media to see what their kids are learning in school.

George Couros, the division principal of Innovative Teaching and Learning with the Parkland School Division in Calgary, talked about this very issue. He said that parent engagement is the no. 1 indicator of whether a kid will be successful in school, and that social media is a powerful tool to help them get involved.

“The more schools start to share and open up about what’s happening in the classrooms, parents are much more aware of what they’re doing and can actually reinforce the learning that’s happening in schools,” Couros said.

But while schools could be leading the charge on social media and even teaching kids best practices and behavior, it’s still not the norm.

Social media in the classroom
Teachers can use social media to encourage classroom participation, share content and get students talking in and out of class. But in order for parents and students to take advantage of these benefits, schools
need to encourage teachers to start using social media in their classes:

  • Introduce training for teachers to explain how they could introduce Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites
  • Offer teachers a self-directed class about social media that explains both the benefits and risks
  • Schedule a weekly or monthly support group for teachers to talk about social media successes and failures
  • Provide incentives to get teachers to try innovative new teaching strategies

When schools can make it work, social media is really exciting. Some schools have even installed TV screens in their classrooms that show a live Twitter feed of messages that students post during class. Teachers incorporate the Tweets into the ongoing discussion. Plus, it can also pull other people into the conversation, like journalists or experts on a certain topic. Parents can see what their kids learned in school and keep the conversation going over the dinner table.

Of course, schools would have to make sure that the learning environment remained safe and that input from the broader web audience was monitored and controlled. They could use a classroom management system to review activity.

What do you think of parents getting involved in their kids’ learning through social media? Can you recommend other ways they could track their kids’ progress? Please share your thoughts below or on our Facebook page!

Kate Beckham

Kate has been lighting up the blogosphere for over 5 years, with a keen interest in social media and new malware threats. When not sitting at a café behind her Mac, you’ll usually find her scouring the racks for vintage finds or playing guitar.