Connected Learning

Jarrod Lamshed


Social Media in Schools

Periscope-logoSocial media is well and truly a part of our lives. We tweet our way through TV shows, Instagram photos of our dinner, pin that craft idea and update our Facebook status to let everyone know what we’re up to or share endless photos of our kids (sorry). For our kids, the world of social media is even more crowded adding Snapchat, Kik, Omegle and Vine… the list goes on. It’s almost impossible to keep up with, with new services popping up regularly.

Given the huge number of services to wade through paired with the hype around children’s safety in these spaces, you can almost be forgiven for wanting to steer clear of social media in the classroom altogether… almost.

There is a lot already written supporting the use of social media in schools. From taking control of your school’s digital footprint, to drip feeding information to your school communities, the applications are wide and varied. For me though, the exciting stuff happens in the classroom.

In many of our classrooms at Woodend Primary School, our teachers are using Facebook to improve their communication with parents. Replacing regular class newsletters, Facebook groups have become an interactive way to bring parents into the classroom. We decided that rather than continue trying to get parents to go to a new space, we would go to them. Most of us are on Facebook and know that ignoring that red notification dot is not really an option! These groups have been well received and are now a natural extension of our school community.

Even better, several classes are regularly using social media to connect their learning with others classes around the world. Twitter being used alongside student blogs has let students start building authentic audiences for their learning.

Twitter has also helped our class along with Jess Ottewell’s class make connections with the Behind the News television series. Behind the News is a current affairs show aimed at a student audience. Each week our classes have been using twitter to ask questions about the week’s stories and to share our ideas and learning. Last week, we were contacted by the show to be a part of a new ‘Ask the Reporter’ session using the new app ‘Periscope’. We were one of only a handful of classrooms to be invited to participate in this trial event where we were able to send questions via Twitter and have them answered live by a reported from the show.

Apart from the obvious added value to the learning in our classrooms, this is a great example of how a new social media app has been harnessed for a learning purpose. A lot of reports surrounding ‘Periscope’ have been negative, highlighting the possible negative uses of the app. As educators, it’s important that we see past the knee jerk reaction surrounding social media and look deeper at how it can add to learning in our classrooms.

The video of this event is posted below.


It Takes A Village: Facebook in the Classroom

We’ve known for a long time that part of offering the best education to our students means involving parents and families. We have also known for a long time that this isn’t always an easy thing to do! School hours and parent availability don’t always line up. We live in a time where most parents are working and are not always available in the way that they were a generation ago. This is not anybody’s fault. It’s just the way it is. Having said this, keeping everyone on the same page is just as important as it ever was.

To solve this problem in my class I have tried many things. Blogging, Edmodo, more regular notes home, regular ‘just checking in’ phone calls after hours. All of these were successful for awhile, but none of them have proven to be long lasting. The thing that all of these have in common is that they have to be ‘fit in’ to someone’s day. Either the teacher or the parent has to make specific time in their day for this to happen.

Earlier this year I launched a Facebook group to communicate with the parents in my class. I realised that the answer was literally sitting right in front of me. I have Facebook access on my phone, my iPad, my laptop and it was also a space that I knew that most parents were already in. Instead of asking parents to come to our spaces, we went to theirs. This has been hugely successful.


Facebook is still a space that seems to scare us in the education system (at least here in Australia). We are worried about keeping professional boundaries with students and keeping some of our personal lives private from our students and their families. Personally, this is not really an issue for me. As we know, there really isn’t a ‘private’ space when it comes to being online. There is only ‘offline’ and ‘online’. When entering these spaces I made the decision that I wouldn’t post anything that I wouldn’t be happy for students, parents or my Grandma to see. I do understand, however, that not everyone feels the same way. Using a Facebook group is still a good option for these people. When starting a Facebook  group you don’t need to be ‘friends’ with the members of that group. In my class group, I have no interaction with parents on my or their timelines. All communications happen within that group.


Our Facebook group is used for a few purposes. I will post reminders about homework and events (the boring stuff) and also post photos and information about what we’ve been up to in class (much more interesting). Having this regular communication helps to build better relationships with families and allows MUCH easier communication in both directions. When I post something, a notification appears for all members. The same happens for me when a parent comments. Having the ability to communicate freely in this way has made life in the classroom much easier and relationships with parents much stronger. I highly recommend giving it a go.

Sample Posts:





Comments from parents:









How Has Social Media Influenced Your Professional Practice?

I saw this question floating around Twitter today and I thought I’d have a go at answering it.

Social Media has become a HUGE part of our world. In schools, we have spent a lot of time focussing on the perceived negatives surrounding it and quietly keeping our fingers crossed that it will go away. It’s become pretty obvious that this is not going to happen. We could spend a lot of time discussing the possibilities and methods of incorporating social media into our classrooms.

For me, social media has had (and continues to have) a substantial effect on my teaching. This happens in several ways.

Professional learning
Through Twitter, social media has connected me to many educators from around the world. All of these people have become part of my professional learning network. Through their blogs and through 140 character conversations, I learn from these people everyday. This community provides me with an ear for my questions and a multitude of links to interesting information and practical ideas that eventually make their way to my classroom.

Making connections
Making connections with educators around the globe has become an integral element of my classroom practice. As a classroom creating student blogs these connections help to provide my students with an international audience for their learning.

Blogging and social media provide me with a platform and an opportunity to reflect on my practice. The difference between using social media and using a traditional book diary is having an audience. No matter how small, knowing that someone might see my ramblings forces me to think deeper and reflect in a much clearer way. It also allows for conversation based on my reflections. A traditional diary wouldn’t encourage any interaction at all.

Twitter has been the biggest social media contributor to my professional practice and the next step for me is to better harness the power of Facebook for my learning. Until now, Facebook land has been purely social. Maybe it’s time to blur the lines and explore this further.

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