Survey: Teachers wary of bringing social media into classrooms

The University of Phoenix College of Education surveyed teachers on their use of social media in the classroom and found teachers wary of involving their classes in websites and apps that enable students to create and share content or network with others.

With today’s kids essentially living their lives and making their connections on social media, a strong argument exists that schools ought to bring the online world into classrooms.

However, teachers tell me the monitoring necessary to keep students on task and out of trouble cancels out the benefits.

While schools increasingly rely on text messages to alert students and parents to deadlines or remind them of events, it remains rare to see a classroom where mobile devices and social media are integral to daily instruction and exploration.

A rationale against incorporating social media into instruction has been that not every student had a phone, but that seems less of a barrier today. Visit any middle school in metro Atlanta at dismissal and adolescents will be on their mobile phones.

Can schools figure out how to integrate smartphones in lesson plans? And keep kids from straying into online diversions? (AP Photo)

Can schools figure out how to integrate smartphones in lesson plans? And keep kids from straying into online diversions? (AP Photo)

Parents at every income level have decided a cell phone is no longer an option, but an essential tool.

Today, sending children out the door without a phone is akin to sending them to school without shoes.  (I remain shocked at the number of parents who have replaced not one, but two smartphones their child either lost or broke.)

And kids are being introduced to technology while still in diapers, a trend that worries pediatricians. (This afternoon, I am interviewing an expert on children and brain development, and he, too, is worried about putting babies in front of screens. Will share that interview later this week.)

As the Los Angeles Times reported earlier this year: (Try to read this story as it’s interesting.)

Most children have been using smartphones and digital tablets practically since birth — literally. Fully 36% of parents who answered a recent survey said their children had “touched or scrolled a screen” before they had celebrated their first birthday, and an additional 33% of parents said their kids had done so while they were 1 year old. Only 2% of the parents surveyed said they had waited until their kids were 4 to introduce them to the wonders of the touchscreen.

In case you were figuring that these kids must have been born in the heart of Silicon Valley, think again. The researchers said they conducted their survey of 370 families in a pediatric clinic that caters to “an urban, low income, minority community” in Philadelphia. In fact, 13% of the parents who took the survey had not finished high school. Still, 77% of them said they had a smartphone, 83% had a tablet and 59% had Internet access.

Here is the official release on teachers and technology:

Social media is a main form of communication and connection used by today’s students. Despite the expansion of ed tech tools as classroom resources, educators have not warmed to the idea of integrating social platforms as quickly as other types of classroom technology.

A University of Phoenix College of Education survey conducted online by Harris Poll in April among 1,002 U.S. K-12 teachers finds only 13 percent of today’s K-12 teachers have integrated social media into classroom learning, with an overwhelming majority (87 percent) reporting they have not embraced social platforms. Additionally, more teachers are citing a reluctance to incorporate social media into classroom learning than in 2013 (62 percent vs. 55 percent).

“We are living in a rapidly evolving world of digital and social media, and many students are totally immersed and well-versed in these platforms,” said Kathy Cook, dean of educational technology for University of Phoenix College of Education and former K-12 educator. “For teachers to stay current, keep students engaged and promote learning, it is important for teachers to acknowledge the influence of social media and understand how to use it to the benefit of their students.”

Why the digital disconnect?

A lack of tools and training top the list of educator concerns. Almost all (95 percent) of K-12 teachers say they have had some level of training related to integrating technology in the classroom; however, more than half (62 percent) have had minimal or no training in the area of interacting with students and parents through social media. Nearly half (48 percent) of K-12 teachers express the desire to learn more about integrating technology into the classroom.

K-12 teachers raise many concerns, with four-in-five (82 percent) worrying about conflicts that can occur from using social media with their students and/or parents, and more than half (59 percent) stating use of personal tech devices outside the classroom makes it more difficult for students to pay attention in a group setting in the classroom. Twenty percent have also felt intimidated by students’ knowledge/use of technology devices.

“Social media is here to stay, so it is critical to invest in our educators through expanded training,” said Cook.

According to Cook, training extends beyond providing educators tools to integrate social media into the classroom. In addition to being prepared to use social media as a learning tool, teachers also need to be able to teach students to be responsible with their online behavior.

“Despite challenges, tremendous opportunities exist for teachers to play a leadership role in students’ digital lives, helping them learn how to use social media and understand its impact both in and outside the classroom,” added Cook. “It is essential to train teachers in digital citizenship so that they can educate students about preserving their online integrity. One misstep can have ramifications for years to come, including among future employers.”

Tips for teachers in a digital world

As the 2015-16 school year starts, Cook suggests the following additional tips for K-12 teachers to help them integrate social media into their classrooms to supplement school- or district-sponsored resources.

•Create student social media guidelines. If your school or district has guidelines for social media use, make sure you and your students understand them completely and are following the guidelines. If your school or district does not currently have guidelines for social media use, consider developing some.

•Try “closed” social media sites. EdmodoTodaysMeet and other sites allow safe and secure social media experiences in a smaller school environment. You can also create private blogs or use sites such as Kidblogs or Edublogs, which limit access and comment abilities.

•Connect with other classrooms around the world. Projects such as Global Read Aloud and Skype in the Classroom allow you to connect students in your classroom with other students worldwide.

•Connect with experts worldwide. Social media tools can help you bring a variety of experts into your classroom so students can learn directly from people in the field they are studying.  You can search and connect with experts on Twitter, Skype and other social media networks. Many authors and content experts may be willing to conduct a live tweet session with your students during which they can ask questions and get immediate responses.

•Involve your class in a social service project. Explore projects online that your students can get involved in to help make the world a better place. Choose2Matter is one global movement that may spark imagination about how social media can be used to help others.

•Learn more about social media use in the classroom. Join Twitter or use other social media tools to connect with other teachers and learn about their creative uses of social media. You can also take a class to hone your own social media skills.

Survey Methodology

This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Poll on behalf of University of Phoenix College of Education between April 14 and April 27, 2015, among 1,002 U.S. teachers aged 18 and older who work full time in education teaching grades K-12. In addition, oversamples of teachers from Arizona (n=101), California (n=207), Florida (n=103), and Colorado (n=100) were also included. A similar survey was conducted between October 7 and 21, 2013, among 1,005 U.S. teachers.

 

Reader Comments 0

27 comments
An American Patriot
An American Patriot

Most children have been using smartphones and digital tablets practically since birth — literally. Fully 36% of parents who answered a recent survey said their children had “touched or scrolled a screen” before they had celebrated their first birthday, and an additional 33% of parents said their kids had done so while they were 1 year old.


And what has the above led to?  An alarming increase in CHILDHOOD OBESITY and anti-social behavior and the blame can be tied directly to these devices.  


If kids want to bring these devices to school, OK; however, they should NOT BE ALLOWED IN THE CLASSROOM.  They should be required to deposit them in a lock box outside to be picked up after the class is over......NO EXCEPTIONS. 


Folks, the classroom is for learning, not for interacting with friends/classmates on these devices.

class80olddog
class80olddog

Posting this again- Brockett Elementary in Dekalb county has been without air conditioning since school began. Parents should be boycotting the school until it is fixed! Bad enough for schools to start early August

liberal4life
liberal4life

Chasing after fads is an American way - specially in education.

gg74
gg74

Hate to break it to the naysayers, but the questions is no longer if we should allow it.  "It" is already in every classroom from middle school on.  The question for teachers should be, now that it is here, do I want my students sneaking their use in during instruction, or am I willing to think about methods to incorporate it into my teaching? 

class80olddog
class80olddog

Alcohol is here with underage kids- should we just let them drink?

gg74
gg74

@class80olddog HUGE difference - your analogy is not valid.  Try using two legal things and I'll reply then.  

Astropig
Astropig

Technology in the classroom- A great leap forward. I'm all for it and believe that machines exist to serve man. 


Social media? Way too much downside, not nearly enough upside.Social media is not in and of itself,a product. You're the product-SM exists to deliver you to the end user.

jarvis1975
jarvis1975

I like the idea of "locked down" tablets used appropriately in classrooms.


I'm a big fan of Edmodo. My daughter uses it for nearly all of her classes. The interface (that's screen and user experience for you old-timers) is very similar to Facebook's, but it is segmented into classes. Students and teachers have access to each other at home, they can submit assignments through it, and the kids can even begin an assignment at school digitally and complete it at home. It helps tremendously with moderate to long writing assignments.


I've been extremely impressed with the discussions my daughter and her classmates have had online already this year, particularly in her Social Studies and Lit classes. She has one very interactive teacher that provokes thoughts by asking questions online at night. The online discussions have been consistently continued the next day in both classes.

There is a lot wrong with schools today, but I think this is modern education at its finest.

heyteacher
heyteacher

@jarvis1975 


How old is your daughter?  I've used a number of programs with my students, including Edmodo, but unless students were required to submit an assignment that day, no one checked it on a regular basis! Our school counselors are having trouble getting students to check E mail regularly -- especially juniors and seniors. They use social media, sure, but they want to be using THEIR social media. 

Don't Tread
Don't Tread

Social media needs to be banned from the schools as it serves no useful purpose in an educational setting that is not already served by some other form of communication.


If you're interested in having the class bounce ideas off each other, why not just have a class discussion like they did back in the day?  Oh wait...that may be too "old fashioned", and Lord knows we can't have any of that.  Just look at how much better schools are now than they used to be.

jarvis1975
jarvis1975

@'Don''t Tread' Yes. Why teach technology at all? They didn't teach computers when my grandfather was a child, and he turned out OK.

class80olddog
class80olddog

Teaching technology is not the issue. Allowing uncontrolled access to distractions is.

Point
Point

So, do we really need to learn anything if we can google all answers? 

class80olddog
class80olddog

That is what they say about the multiplication tables.

redweather
redweather

@Point Yeah, accessing information is a piece of cake.  Knowing what to do with it is the real test.  My students typically fare miserably.

TaxiSmith
TaxiSmith

First of all Phoenix University as as much credibility as Hillary Clinton. But I do agree with the teachers that students (especially those in the 12-16 age group) do not have sufficient maturity to use social media in the classroom to do appropriate schoolwork. Its like putting a cupcake on their desk and asking them not to eat it.

class80olddog
class80olddog

In the sixties, teachers did not allow their students to bring toys to school and play with them in class. Why would they do that today?

jarvis1975
jarvis1975

@class80olddog You realize talking about 1965 today is the same as talking about 1915 in 1965? It's completely irrelevant.


Why don't we have them all practice getting under their desks in case of a nuclear attack too?

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@jarvis1975 @class80olddog 

That was in the early 1950s. I remember the drills. We didn't march anywhere, just cowered under our desks with our hands over the backs of our necks.

Astropig
Astropig

@OriginalProf @jarvis1975 @class80olddog


In my day, we looked for leaders that would defeat the Commies, instead of "reach out" to the SOB's. We found one in 1980. We elected him and my kids never had to cower under a desk.

bu2
bu2

@jarvis1975 @class80olddog


That may become necessary again.  And the desk was only during the blast phase.  Then we marched down to wherever the fallout shelter was.

JohnnyTooGood
JohnnyTooGood

At this point in our society, social media is too much of a distraction. 

Like any tool, it's only as good as the purpose it's used for(guns, religion, music, narcotics, etc).


Teenagers using cell phones in class is not academically related 98 percent of the time.

BKendall
BKendall

There is no single answer to this. Yet I want to point out what may be the biggest challenge for teachers. Teachers tend to teach the way they were taught, or in a single manner they feel the most comfortable with. Most of today's teachers did not grow up with technology like the children described in the article. Overcoming that challenge alone is hard. Especially if one does not know what excellent instruction using tech looks, feels, smells, and tastes like.

redweather
redweather

@BKendall Learning requires concentration, and that is something that must be learned and practiced. Not so sure mobile devices in the hands of students will promote concentration.