• Web-based Career & Technical Education

Helping Students Harness the Power of Social Media

February 21st, 2018 Mike Gecawich

As a business education teacher, it’s not rare to find me complaining about how social media and texting culture have degraded proper writing.

From emoji-studded emails to slang-ridden essays, the offenses are numerous and often atrocious.

Nonetheless, social media platforms are crucial forms of communication for students to master.

And given the prevalence of social media in business, it’s more important than ever to help students understand the professional management of these platforms.

So instead of discouraging students from using social media (which, let’s be honest, would never work), focus your energy on teaching students how to apply critical thinking and academic writing skills to social media platforms.

Disseminate Information Through Social Media

Some of the most powerful learning experiences take place when teachers apply a simple philosophy:

Make the medium the message.

In other words, if you want to teach students about effective social media use, use social media as your means of disseminating information.

There are countless ways that you could go about this.

Many teachers have successfully created Facebook groups they use to share information and create a communal digital space for students.

Other teachers have gone so far as to create an Instagram profile that features images, videos, and links related to a topic students are learning about.

Such an Instagram profile can serve as a jumping off point for students to familiarize themselves with a topic before doing their own research.

And all the while they’re seeing what it looks like to effectively communicate through Instagram.

Practice Critical Reading

One of the many perks of social media is how easy it makes it to share and access information.

A downside of this, though, is that information we receive via Facebook and Twitter isn’t always reliable.

Now more than ever, it’s essential that we teach students how to be critical readers and evaluators of information.

Teach students how to identify bias and what red flags to look for when it comes to fake news.

A rule of thumb to start with: don’t believe everything you read on social media.

Promote Oneself Through Social Media

Social media usage isn’t just about getting information, but also about sharing it.

One of the most valuable aspects of social media is its utility in networking and job searching.

iAcademy’s online course, Social Media Essentials, provides an easy way to teach students how to use LinkedIn and Twitter to launch their future career or network with like-minded individuals.

This hands-on course will help students navigate the key features of these two platforms and harness their power for professional advancement.

Use Micro-Writing

Just because you mostly wrote essays in school, doesn’t mean that this should be the case for students today.

Sure, essays are still important, but more and more other forms of writing are coming to dominate the digital landscape.

Enter: micro-writing. Micro-writing is a form of communication that uses digital platforms to convey and disseminate ideas and opinions.

Micro-writing typically includes both words and images, and as its name implies, it’s shorter than a standard essay.

Despite its condensed format, micro-writing can be challenging for students. They need to be very thoughtful in how they express their ideas with limited space.

Not sure where to start? Invite students to participate in a “Tweet debate”.

Students need to debate a topic they’ve researched but only have 140 characters with which to write each of their arguments. They’ll need to choose their words carefully.

So instead of shunning social media in your classroom, embrace it!

Your students will thank you and they’ll leave your class being more informed about what professional and responsible social media usage looks like.

You can’t go wrong!

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