As teachers, we have all realized at some point or another that building classroom community and fostering friendly relationships among students is as vital as classroom management. A friendly atmosphere allows students to express their views and individuality freely without feeling that they will be judged. Social media can be helpful tools in the hands of a teacher who aims to build classroom community.
Firstly, the use of posts in forums or chats (created on Facebook or Instagram etc.) enables introverted students who normally stay quiet in class to interact with their peers and express their views more freely, since they feel that they benefit from the distance their online profile creates.
Furthermore, social media are tools that can promote peer assessment. According to Wang H, Wang M and Li G (2022) “students can learn more from their peers through social media and they can also be motivated by them”. The teacher can step back and allow students to comment on each other’s work. In this way, feedback is not received as mistakes to be corrected by the authoritative figure of the teacher, but as friendly suggestions from peers which will help students improve their work.
Additionally, students who prefer to stay quiet in class due to a learning difficulty or disability can overcome it through social media. Suppose that a student with a speech impediment feels embarrassed to speak up in class, or a student with dyslexia or dysgraphia is embarrassed about their spelling or handwriting. These students could overcome their insecurities by participating in a social media forum where they do not have to speak, they have time to edit their responses, they can type instead of using their handwriting, and they can benefit from the autocorrect spelling extension on these applications.
Moreover, the use of social media in the classroom fosters collaborative learning and a more democratic classroom status quo. Besides peer assessment, social media can be used for the assignment of creative projects like the creation of a video or a reel (Instagram) or the creation of a profile for a business or fictional character. The poll function found in a number of social media (TikTok, Twitter etc.) could also be used by the teacher in order to ask students to make decisions concerning their own learning. All of these options social media offer, would increase student satisfaction which in turn would promote (Al-Rahmi & Zeki, 2017) collaborative learning and lead to better performance.
Lastly, let’s not forget that in the dire times of the Covid-19 lockdowns, social media were one of the most important factors in community building inside and outside of the classroom.
All in all, the use of social media in the classroom can promote a more friendly, democratic and collaborative learning environment and thus positively affect students’ participation, engagement and academic performance.
Al-Rahmi, W. M., & Zeki, A. M. (2017). A model of using social media for collaborative learning to enhance learners’ performance on learning. Journal of King Saud University – Computer and Information Sciences, 29(4), 526–535. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jksuci.2016.09.002
Wang H, Wang M and Li G (2022) The use of social media inside and outside the classroom to enhance students’ engagement in EFL contexts. Front. Psychol. 13:1005313. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2022.1005313