Image courtesy of RambergMediaImages, flickr

I started my blog Entrepreneurial Teaching because I believe people who think and act entrepreneurially make amazing teachers. When it comes to implementing social media in the classroom, most people who have already done so are thinking entrepreneurially, perhaps without even realizing it.

 

I think the decision for educators to wade into social media provides a useful example for the power of thinking entrepreneurially in education. Using social media, while increasingly accepted, remains rather innovative. There is neither a significant base of research on its outcomes nor a consensus of its value to students. Therefore, to implement social media in the classroom, we have to be willing to take a risk. Assuming we are going to take that risk, let’s use that same entrepreneurial flair to develop a meaningful social media lesson.

 

Before we create our lesson or strategy for implementation, we must first create our goals and how we will measure our success. In more familiar language, what are our objectives and how will we assess them? Most likely, these objectives will be pulled directly from our curriculum maps. You may have additional social media focused objectives as well, but for most of us, our objectives are focused on the skills and content laid out some time ago. Like any lesson, some things will work and some will not. Having our objectives delineated before hand will enrich our post-lesson reflection and help us to improve implementation in the future.  Not only that, but since social media in education is full of detractors and there is no established history of practice, it will be nice to have tangible evidence of what worked.

 

Without losing sight of our objectives, we can now create our social media project. For me this can be difficult. There are so many exciting ideas out there; I want to implement them all. It is critically important, however, that we avoid implementing social media just because it seems cool or we found a new tool. The lesson must focus on our objectives — anything that detracts from that is superfluous and inefficient. As fun as it would be, our objective is not simply to use social media in the classroom. We can help elevate social media’s presence in education by demonstrating its usefulness in imparting our traditional course objectives alongside our digital literacy objectives.

 

As we implement our social media project, we have to recognize that pieces may not work. This is not an indictment of social media, it is commonplace within even “traditional” lessons that not everything goes as planned. It is important that we have clearly identified the objectives that were met and have reflected on why we came up short on the others. Before getting too far away from this lesson, we should make changes immediately or add a written reflection to our lesson so it can be improved next year. This step is incredibly difficult for teachers, much more so than for entrepreneurs. An entrepreneur is forced to reflect and adjust immediately or go out of business. As teachers, within 24 hours we have already moved on to the next lesson (business). It takes discipline and, worse for teachers, time to complete this step. If we wanted to get creative, we could create two different lessons using the same objectives. Then, after adjusting for differences in class competencies, a comparison of the assessments for each class may highlight some best practices

Using our entrepreneurial skill set is crucial in all aspects of education, but can be particularly effective when implementing social media in the classroom. There is an exciting opportunity to enrich classroom activities with social media lessons, but we cannot assume introducing social media is enough. We must implement, assess, and reflect to ensure that we are using this exciting new medium to maximize student success.

Lucas Ames

Lucas Ames

Instructional Designer at Global Online Academy (GOA)

Lucas is an instructional designer at Global Online Academy where he works with teachers to move their courses into blended and online environments. He is formerly the History and Social Sciences Department Chair at Flint Hill School in Oakton, VA. He has also taught at the Miller School of Albemarle in Charlottesville, VA. Lucas blogs at Entrepreneurial Teaching on how teachers can harness innovative skills to be successful in the classroom.

http://www.entrepreneurialteaching.com/