SmartBrief editors regularly cover news stories about the ways in which schools are using social media in the classroom. News about cyberbullying, Internet safety and other concerns is prevalent as well. Last week, SmartBrief on EdTech polled readers about the risks vs. rewards of social media — from Facebook to Twitter and text messaging — in educational settings, and found that the jury is still out.
According to the results, a measured approach to using social media in education was favored by respondents with just over half agreeing that social media has benefits but that students must be carefully monitored. Others were divided, with about 23% saying that social media use is not worth the risk, and nearly 20% saying the benefits of use outweigh any risks. Almost six percent said social media should not be used in schools.
Respondents also were divided over the use of social media for educational purposes, with just under 10% finding that it is being used effectively for that purpose. Some 41% responded that social media tools are used sporadically to enhance education, but nearly as many (32%) reported that such tools are not used at all for educational purposes in their school or district, and 17% reported that the use of social media is prohibited.
However, it does seem that social media tools are making headway as an effective way for schools and districts to communicate with parents and the community, with more than 60% of respondents reporting that social media tools have either replaced notes in backpacks, or are used to complement printed communications. Still, another 31% say social media are not used this way and just over 7% say their schools or districts prohibit such use.
Here is a breakdown of the results:
In your opinion, do the potential educational benefits of social media — such as text messaging, Twitter, Facebook and/or other tools — for students outweigh risks such as cyberbullying, privacy concerns, etc.?
- Yes, some social media use is beneficial — but students should be carefully monitored — 51.85%
- No, the benefits of social media do not outweigh the risks — 23.15%
- Yes, social media use is beneficial for students despite the risks — 19.44%
- No, social media should not be used in educational settings — 5.56%
How effectively is social media — including text messaging, Twitter, Facebook and/or other tools — used to enhance student learning in your school or district?
- Social media are used sporadically to foster student learning in my school or district — 41.46%
- Social media are not incorporated into student instruction in my school or district — 31.71%
- Social media use as part of classroom instruction is not permitted in my school or district — 17.07%
- Social media are used effectively to enhance student learning in my school or district — 9.76%
How effectively are social media tools — text messaging, Twitter, Facebook and/or other — used in your school or district to foster communication with parents and/or the public?
- Social media are used to complement other print notices to communicate with parents and the community — 43.9%
- Social media are not used in my school or district to communicate with parents or the public — 31.71%
- Social media have replaced print newsletters and notes in backpacks as a way to communicate with parents and the community — 17.07%
- Social media sites as communication tools are not permitted in my school or district — 7.32%
Katharine Haber is an education editor for SmartBrief, writing and editing content about a variety of topics in education.