There are more social networking sites than you can count on both your fingers and toes. It seems that every day there is some new, next, big thing in the world of social networking. So as an educator how do you choose which ones to spend your limited time on and which ones to ignore? That choice will ultimately be up to you to determine. As educators, we are used to telling the students what to do, but that does not work in this case. We have to go where the students are spending their time in order to reach them. do not expect your students to spend time on a social networking site just because you tell them to contact you there, you need to be cognizant to where they are already spending their time and touch them there. This is not always easy as your students may use different social networks in their daily activities, so you just have to make a choice. There are also tools out there such as Hootsuite that will let you write one message and post to multiple social networking sites at the same time. This is a real time saver as you delve into the world of social media and networking utilizing these tools.
List of Social Networks / Media Sites for Educators
- Facebook – With over 1.2 billion users worldwide this is a must and you need to build a prescience on this site. Many educators cringe when thinking of sharing their Facebook data with their students. but you do not need to share your personal data to still contact your students. You can create a Facebook page and then encourage your students to like your page. You can have as many pages as you want so you could split up classes on separate pages, but this may not be necessary for your specific situation. You can then post updates and allow your students to engage without sharing your entire life with your students.
- YouTube – YouTube is a powerhouse among most young people and YouTube Statistics will show the YouTube shows more video to the demographic of 18-34-year-olds than any cable network. You may think it’s hard to create video’s and requires a lot of technical ability but that is not the case. Utilizing tools such as Camtasia Studio will have you creating a video for your students to consume in no time. The really cool part about this, is as long as your lecture does not change from term to term, then you can create a video of your lecture, along with PowerPoints or whatever multimedia applications you use in instruction, one time and then point students to it over and over to re-enforce their understanding of the material.
- Google + – Google Plus has a feature named Circles that allow you to place your followers in groups of sorts and control which data those circles see. This can be very useful when managing multiple classes and sending out information. Another great feature of Google Plus for Educators is that you can create hangouts which are like your own Video conferencing system. There are educators using Google Hangouts to deliver interactive lectures to distance learning students.
- Twitter – Twitter is a great resource for sending out short messages to you students. With a program such as Hootsuite you can schedule tweets months in advance so with a little-advanced planning you can pretty much put Twitter on auto pilot for sending redundant communications. For example, you know at the beginning of the term when your exams are scheduled. You can send tweets to remind the students to study.
- Pinterest – Pinterest is a relativity newcomer to the Social Networking space, but it has gained a lot of traction in its short life. Pinterest allows you to post or pin photos to the site organized in boards. The site has tight integration with Facebook so you can share data you post on Pinterest very easily on your Facebook Pages.
- Meetup – Meetup is a social networking site that allows you to host events and plan meetings between groups of people. The site has discussion groups and several other features that could let it be used as a quasi-distance learning platform if required. Google Plus would likely make a better choice for a poor school who needed distance learning capabilities, but for simple discussion activities. Meetup may work for you.
- Academia.Edu – Is as you may have guessed a social networking site for Educators. This could prove to be a great resource for you to share your ideas and learn from other educator’s who frequent the social networking site. There are over 3.5 million educators registered so you will surely find someone who shares your strategy.
- LinkedIN– LinkedIn is another great resource for networking with other educators. While LinkedIn is primarily a social networking site for people searching for a job, you can make great contacts on the site. Also, build out your LinkedIn profile as you may be contacted by someone on the site who can help you advance your career. Most of the social networking activities on this site take place in the groups so be sure to search out groups of like-minded individuals and join the groups.
This list of Social Networking Sites is not at all complete. There are hundreds of websites that are either full fledged Social Networking platforms or have social features built in. These sites can suck up all your time or they can help you to be a better educator and manage your time more effectively while you reach your target audience.